Brown takes tough stance on EC tax reforms

Link EC clamps down on tax evasion

The European Commission is seeking to end tax evasion through secret accounts both within the EU and in countries like Switzerland and the US that could attract deposits from EU citizens.

But to date Switzerland has said it would only release information where criminal activity was suspected.

Brown wants EU internal markets commissioner Frits Bolkenstein to negotiate a deal in which the Swiss would automatically exchange information on non-resident savings, but, according to the FT, Bolkenstein angered the British chancellor by telling journalists a hard-line approach was not on the table.

Austria and Luxembourg, which both have extensive banking interests are also in favour of automatic exchange of information, but they, along with Britain, are becoming increasing isolated in their views.

The possibility of sanctions imposed against Switzerland if they do not comply have been mooted by EC officials.

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