Monday, April 13, 2009

Swiss banker to EU: we knew we were tricking you

Konrad Hummler, the head of the Swiss private bankers' association, has made some fiery and anti-democratic statements in his time (see this, for example, where he singles out Germany, France and Italy as "illegitimate states.")

Now he has said something rather interesting: something we've known for a long time but which doesn't generally get mentioned in polite society. It's about the EU Savings Tax Directive, which is, as we've explained, a promising initiative, full of loopholes. Hummler's just spoken in Switzerland's Sonntag weekly magazine:

"We said that the witholding tax was a measure against tax evasion. That was, of course, a lie, because the arrangements can be structured so that the tax never has to be paid. When we negotiated with the EU on the Savings Tax Directive, we knew it had no teeth."

So there you have it. No great surprise, but it's nice that it's out in the open now.

Hummler, who also heads the Wegelin private bank, once again outlines his "screw-you," crime-supporting attitude, in another part of the interview:

Hummler: In Chicasso (Switzerland's southernmost municipality) we will are going to see how well our "onshore" strategy, in a border region, pays. We will see whether tax-paying Italians come to us.

Sonntag interviewer: And what will you do about those who do not pay taxes?

Hummler: That is really not our problem.

(We can't find the link to the story - Sonntag doesn't seem to have posted this on the web - only the hard copy. In the original German, the paragraph about the EU STD reads: "Wir haben gesagt, die Quellensteuer sei eine Massnahme gegen Steuerhinterziehung, Das was natürlich gelogen, weil man die Anlagen so strukturieren konnte, dass man die Quellensteuer nicht zahlen musste. Bei de mit der EU ausgehandelten Zinsbesteuerung wusste man, dass diese keine Zähne hat."

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