Tax offences are money laundering

ZURICH: The OECD is planning to list tax offences as a form of money laundering, a move that could hit Switzerland hard, Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported today.

Without citing its sources, the newspaper said that if tax offences were reclassified in money laundering, lawyers, tax advisors, accountants and bankers who are implicated in such offences could get up to three years in jail.

In addition, the country’s cherished banking secrecy law would not hold in arguing against assistance to foreign tax authorities, as the rule is lifted in money laundering cases.

Switzerland came under pressure from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic

Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2009, when

it put Switzerland on a ‘grey list’ of tax havens for not being cooperative enough.

To go off this list, Bern had to negotiate a series of accords

on sharing tax information. Swiss banks have been hit

by a series of disputes with

several countries, including

the United States, Germany and France, over allegations that their nationals have hidden funds in Swiss bank accounts to evade taxes.

On Thursday, the Swiss government vowed to reject undeclared assets from foreigners, in a move to counter tax evasion and clean up the reputation of Alpine state’s banking sector.