Bank secrecy. Switzerland signs the OECD Convention
On 15 October 2013 Switzerland signed the OECD Convention allowing exchange of information upon request. All the major countries are united and determined to fight against international tax evasion.
Mr Stefan Flückiger, Switzerland's permanent ambassador at the OECD, signed the treaty on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters at the organization's headquarters in Paris. Flückiger recalled that Switzerland has been committed to respect international standards on tax matters since March 2009. "The signature of the agreement confirms the commitment of Switzerland to the global fight against fraud and tax evasion, in order to safeguard the integrity and the reputation of the financial centre of the country," Flückiger declared in a statement. The OECD Convention provides for all forms of mutual assistance including exchange of information upon request, spontaneous tax examinations abroad, simultaneous controls and assistance in collection of taxes, as well as protection of the rights of taxpayers. The automatic exchange of information is possible under the Convention, but it needs further agreements between the States concerned. The Secretary-General of the OECD, Angel Gurria, said that Switzerland's accession to the Convention "sends a clear and strong signal that Switzerland is part of the community of states that consider international tax cooperation as a necessity". On 9 October 2013, the Minister of Finance Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf had already reported that the Federal Council had approved the agreement and intended to sign the Convention on tax cooperation. The Minister also reiterated that at the time of the OECD-Council of Europe Multilateral Convention is already a global standard. In Switzerland, the Convention will have to be subject to consultation prior to ratification by the Parliament. A national referendum before its entry into force might also be necessary. Nearly sixty countries, including the Member States of the G20, have signed the Convention and about thirty countries are already applying its provisions. Countries such as Luxembourg and Singapore have already signed the treaty in May 2013, whereas the Principality of Liechtenstein, Andorra and Monaco have not accepted it yet. In addition, the former British colonies such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, as well as the overseas territories, such as Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands have not signed the Convention yet.