Italy seeks tax evasion treaty with Switzerland

Italian and Swiss officials are once again in talks about a tax treaty aimed at preventing the use of Swiss banks across the border as a tax haven.

Mario Monti, the Italian interim prime minister, has resumed the talks after reports that Swiss banks were struggling to cope with a surge of Italians visiting to make large cash deposits. The previous Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi had instituted a tax amnesty, the so-called ‘scudo fiscale’, in 2009 to persuade Italians to repatriate their assets voluntarily. It is estimated that the measure caused €20bn to be repatriated.

Recent reports suggest, however, that this measure is no longer effective. Monti is looking to sign a deal modelled on the agreement Switzerland has already signed with Germany and the UK. In government circles, it is thought that anything between €10bn and €25bn could be claimed back for the Italian Treasury, if such a deal were signed.

Rather than sign deals bilaterally, Monti is thought to want to make the same agreement with all the major European countries, including France. It is thought Monti will be raising the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she visits Rome today 

San Marino, a picture-postcard tourist destination perched in the hills above Ravenna and Rimini, has also been in the news as a destination for cash that cannot be declared. In June last year, a police investigation co-ordinated with the US Drug Enforcement Agency to arrest a group of drug traffickers who deposited their profits with some banks in San Marino.

Six months later, other investigations revealed more money laundering operations based in San Marino, this time involving the directors of local newspapers who had links with criminal networks based in Southern Italy, including the Mafia, Camorra and ’ndrangheta.

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