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Swiss see no sign of mass German money exodus ahead of tax deal-fin min
ZURICH Aug 11 (Reuters) - A deal between Switzerland and Germany that would tax German assets in Swiss accounts has not yet led to a mass exodus of German funds, the Swiss finance minister said in an interview on Saturday.
After the two countries struck the tax deal in April, some Swiss bankers advised clients to transfer funds to Singapore or elsewhere before it was enforced, according to a German media report.
In an interview with Swiss Aargauer Zeitung newspaper, Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf did not directly answer a question asking whether Swiss banks had advised their German clients to move their money.
"We have little indication until now that German clients are withdrawing their assets in a major way," in favour of other money-management centres such as Singapore, she said in the interview.
Her comments come as ties between Switzerland and Germany are strained after German state North Rhine-Westphalia obtained new Swiss bank data from a presumed whistleblower, part of an effort to crack down on German tax evaders.
UBS, according to media reports one of the banks hit by a data leak, denied on Friday it had advised clients to move money in order to avoid detection by tax authorities.
The tax deal - in part aimed at preventing such purchases of leaked data - is yet to be ratified by Germany but is set to come into force in January.
The pact would allow German account holders to remain anonymous but imposes a retroactive levy on capital in offshore bank accounts and taxes future interest income.
Privacy is crucial to Switzerland's $2 trillion offshore wealth management industry, and the country has sought similar deals with the Britain and Austria as an alternative to automatic exchange of bank information.
However, the mining of data purchased from whistleblowers, which has led to arrest warrants for three German tax investigators accused by Swiss prosecutors of buying secret tax data, has put Widmer-Schlumpf on the defensive.
Data purchases would be of little value to German officials after the tax agreement came into force because account holders would automatically come clean by way of the withholding tax, Widmer-Schlumpf said in the interview.
German lawmakers are set to vote on the agreement in November. (Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Rosalind Russell)
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