SPD mulling measures against Liechtenstein and Swiss banks

SPD mulling measures against Liechtenstein and Swiss banks
Attac activists dressed as robber barons from Liechtenstein. Photo:DPA
Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) are considering pushing for sanctions against banks from Liechtenstein and Switzerland to make them more cooperative in the fight against tax evasion.

“We should consider whether we should make use of the ability to revoke the bank licences of institutions from Liechtenstein and Switzerland,” SPD deputy floor leader Joachim Poß told the Passauer Neue Presse on Wednesday.

He labelled the assurances made by Liechtenstein in the wake of a massive tax evasion scandal this year an “alibi event” intended to take pressure off the tiny alpine principality. Poß also criticized the lack of Swiss cooperation in tracking down Germans hiding their money from the tax authorities.

The head of the union representing German tax officials, Dieter Ondracek, backed the call for tougher measures. “We shouldn’t hold back anymore, because the announced cooperation isn’t happening,” he told the paper, adding that the United States took a much harder line against tax evasion.

Besides pulling the licences of banks that refuse to cooperate with the tax authorities, Ondracek said there were other methods Germany could use.

“We could consider currency controls or an extra fee for transfers to Liechtenstein,” he said.

But a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry told the Frankfurter Rundschau on Wednesday that progress was being made in the fight against tax evasion in Liechtenstein. “Much points to the realization that Liechtenstein is losing its attraction for potential tax evaders,” he told the paper.