Tax head doesn't see EU opposition to Swiss pact
ZURICH (Reuters) - A British deal aimed at sweeping Swiss banks clean of undeclared money is likely to come into force without further opposition from the European Union, Britain's top tax official said on Monday.
Dave Hartnett, head of British tax authority HMRC, was responding to a question on whether E.U. common markets officials could mount objections to Britain's deal as well as ones Switzerland clinched recently with Germany and Austria, in favour of demanding an EU-wide pact.
"There may one day be some overarching agreement, but I don't see much movement in that direction," Hartnett told a gathering of Swiss private bankers here.
EU tax officials initially opposed the British and Swiss deals, but backed down after Switzerland agreed to bring the pact into line with EU rules. Experts have been divided over whether EU officials might intervene again to stall the deals.
Switzerland is seeking withholding tax deals in order to preserve bank account secrecy, the cornerstone of the country's $2 trillion (1.24 trillion pounds) financial services industry. Secrecy has been under attack in recent years as cash-strapped governments crack down on undeclared funds held in hidden Swiss accounts.
Hartnett voiced confidence the British pact will be vetted by British lawmakers in coming weeks, as well as his hope it will be backed by the Swiss parliament shortly. Swiss lawmakers must vote the pact through for the withholding tax to come into effect by the start of 2013.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)
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