Bern confirms talks with Athens on tax deal

Greek officials were in Bern on Monday for talks aimed at reaching a deal allowing the country to tax undeclared bank accounts held by Greeks in Switzerland.

Switzerland’s state secretary for international financial and tax matters, Michael Ambuehl, met with Greek Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis, a Swiss government spokeswoman said.

She refused to provide any details on the negotiations, beyond that the talks are aimed at finalising a taxation deal similar to ones Switzerland has already reached with Germany, Britain and Austria. 

According to that model, foreigners with non-declared funds in Switzerland maintain their anonymity, but their assets are taxed by Bern, which in turn transfers the revenues to their country of origin.

The former Greek government began tax talks with Switzerland last year, and the current government in Athens resumed efforts to reach a deal in July.

Struggling to avoid bankruptcy since 2010, Greece has been trying to clamp down on perennial problems of tax evasion and avoidance but with limited success.

The amount of Greek funds stashed away in Swiss banks remains unclear, and Bern has refused to reveal any figures.

However, the Greek finance ministry said in February that some 65 billion euros had been withdrawn from the country’s banks since 2009 and that 16 billion of that amount had been deposited abroad.

The ministry said at the time that around 10 percent of the 16 billion figure had been deposited in Swiss banks.


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