Austria Draws Curtain On Banking Secrecy
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Austria’s Finance Minister Josef Pröll has announced his intention
to crack down on tax evaders, as the end of banking secrecy draws ever nearer.
According to Pröll, if the names of Austrians do indeed appear on the
stolen tax data disc that Germany is eager to buy, then the government has resolved
to act without delay. Pröll nevertheless remains sceptical about the purchase
of stolen data by the state.
Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann has also emphasized his intention
to exhaust every available legal means in the fight against tax evasion.
In a similar incident, when, two years ago, Germany bought stolen tax data
from Liechtenstein, and subsequently forwarded the names of Austrian tax evaders
to Vienna, the government recovered in the region of EUR12m in fines and back tax
Finance Minister Pröll also took the opportunity to underline Austria’s commitment to cooperating in tax matters internationally, emphasizing the fact that Austria
has now fully implemented the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s
standards, and is providing more – and better – information than ever before. Indeed, banking secrecy is essentially a thing of the past for foreigners,
he noted, given that fiscal information is exchanged with foreign tax authorities
without recourse to legal proceedings.
Although Pröll confirmed that banking secrecy remains in place for Austrian
nationals, he nevertheless explained that the tax authorities will be required
to ascertain whether or not taxes are correctly being paid.
Pröll also announced that in future it will become increasingly harder
to deposit money from criminal sources, as banks will be required to comprehensively
report any suspicions. Greater powers will also be bestowed to the country’s
Financial Intelligence Unit (Geldwäschemeldestelle) and to the Financial
Market Authority, he said.