Luxembourg criticises tax haven listing

BERLIN Sat May 9, 2009 5:19pm BST

Related Topics

BERLIN (Reuters) - Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker accused Germany and other European partners of breaking their word by putting his country on a list of problem tax havens at last month's G20 summit in London.

"I consider this outrageous," Juncker told German weekly Der Spiegel. "I'm disappointed by all my EU colleagues who in London broke a promise they had given us in Brussels."

Juncker said European Union leaders had agreed at a summit in Brussels in March that none of the bloc's members would be put on such a list.

At the G20 summit, a new "grey list" of problem tax havens from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was agreed which included EU members Luxembourg, Belgium and Austria.

"We will need to have a serious discussion within the EU on the reliability of decisions we take together," Juncker said. "This is unacceptable."

Juncker also hit out at comments by leading German politicians who have publicly chastised Luxembourg and other countries for their bank secrecy laws.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck sparked outrage earlier this week when he jokingly lumped Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria together with Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, as problem tax havens.

Franz Muentefering, the head of Steinbrueck's Social Democrats (SPD), said back in February that tax havens would have been dealt with even more harshly in the past, for example by "sending in soldiers."

"We don't find this funny. We were occupied, we suffered under German occupation," Juncker said, referring to the period between 1940 and 1944 when the Nazis controlled Luxembourg.

(Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

FILED UNDER: