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  1. Wealth
September 24, 2009

OECD: Swiss secrecy melting away

By Spear's

Switzerland has signed a protocol to its tax treaty with the United States that incorporates the internationally agreed tax information standard.

Switzerland has signed a protocol to its tax treaty with the United States that incorporates the internationally agreed tax information standard.
This is the 11th agreement for the exchange of information in tax matters signed by Switzerland that meets the OECD standard. The agreement with the United States continues the trend of agreements signed by Switzerland with its major economic partners. Of its 11 agreements, 10 are with OECD member countries, including major economic partners such as France, the United Kingdom and now the United States.
The OECD has also been informed that Switzerland will shortly sign another agreement. This will mark the 12th agreement conforming to the OECD standard and will mean that Switzerland joins the category of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard. Because of the time difference, this will be reflected in the regular progress report to be issued Friday morning in Paris.
Commenting on these developments from Pittsburgh, where he will attend the G20 Summit, the OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurría stated: “This is a very meaningful development and it shows that OECD countries are prepared to step up to the mark. Our congratulations to the Swiss authorities. Signing agreements is only one step in a process. What we will now be looking for effective implementation by all countries.”
Since the progress report was first published on 2 April, unprecedented progress has been made towards transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. All 88 jurisdictions surveyed by the Global Forum have now committed to the OECD standards. Moreover, jurisdictions that had not substantially implemented the standard on 2 April have signed more than 150 agreements since then. Many more are under negotiation.
As a result, 11 jurisdictions – Aruba, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bahrain, Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles and San Marino – have moved to the category of jurisdictions having substantially implemented the standard since 2 April. Switzerland will now join that category.
The Secretary-General of the OECD added: “The Global Forum has been restructured and given a strong mandate to establish a robust peer review that will underpin this implementation. Although signing 12 agreements that meet the standards is an important step it is not a hard and fast rule. This was never a numbers game.

“The Global Forum will be able to assess more carefully the extent to which agreements are signed with partners that have a significant interest in exchanging information, the extent to which agreements are implemented in practice and a jurisdiction’s willingness to continue to enter into agreements even after it has reached the threshold.”

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