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Getting rid of banking secrecy in Europe

Europe's Commissioner for Taxation Laszlo Kovacs has blasted Austria's banking secrecy laws and urged Vienna to lift them or face consequences, in an interview with an Austrian magazine.

"Banking secrecy should not protect fraudsters," Kovacs told the weekly Format in an interview to be published on Friday.
"It is unacceptable that banking secrecy in one (EU) member state can hamper the tax authorities of other member states," he added.

Kovacs warned of serious consequences if Austria did not lift its banking secrecy soon, as other states have already done.

Austria is supported by Luxembourg, that should be warned in the same way as both states were recently in agreement to refuse. On 25 February, Luxembourg minister for justice and budget Luc Frieden said in Austria that Luxembourg and Austria were ready to take part constructively in a discussion in the EU and the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] on how to improve international co-operation on cross-border tax evasion, but banking secrecy is not up for negotiation.

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