Alistair Darling has launched a blistering attack on Switzerland, suggesting its banks’ refusal to end centuries of secrecy is “intolerable”.
Speaking exclusively to the Observer this weekend, the chancellor singled out Switzerland and demanded the Alpine state undertake fundamental reform of its banking and tax laws to bring it into line with the rest of Europe.
“I think it’s important there is transparency. People don’t know what’s going on. That’s not good. Indeed, half the many problems we have got now is because people didn’t know what was going on,” said Darling.
“It’s one of the things Switzerland has got to address. If it wants to be part of the international community, it’s got to be open. The secrecy that allows people to shelter their wealth from tax that’s properly paid – you can’t tolerate that. It’s unfair to those people who have got no choice but to pay.”
But Darling’s attack will cause outrage in the Swiss government and financial community. They will argue that many of the most devious tax avoidance schemes have been cooked up in the City of London, using a network of tax havens based in UK overseas territories.
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