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Japan talks with Swiss likely to cover bank secrecy

  Japan is to step up exchanges of tax information with Switzerland, which is under pressure to disclose names of individuals suspected of tax evasion in other countries.

Japanese officials said banking secrecy will likely be included in talks to revise a bilateral tax treaty, which started last November.

The Group of 20 nations pledged at a meeting in early April to crack down on jurisdictions that fail to cooperate in cross-border tax evasion and urged countries to sign up to global rules on sharing tax information.

Pressure by the G20 prompted the Alpine tax haven and other offshore financial centres to sign up for tax cooperation standards set up by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development ahead of the G20 summit.

But after the G20 meeting Switzerland decided to veto part of the OECD’s budget in a dispute over its banking secrecy. A high-profile tax fraud investigation involving Switzerland’s largest bank UBS has forced Berne to hand over confidential bank client data to Washington.

Japan currently has bilateral tax treaties with 56 countries aimed at preventing tax evasion, avoiding double taxation, and encouraging mutual investment. (Reuters)