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Swiss summon Italian ambassador

Bern 'concerned' over raids on Swiss bank branches

28 October, 19:55

Svizzera convoca ambasciatore italiano dopo blitz Finanza

Svizzera convoca ambasciatore italiano dopo blitz Finanza

(ANSA) - Geneva, October 28 - Swiss authorities on Wednesday summoned Rome's ambassador to Bern to explain the raids carried out by Italian finance police on 76 branches of Swiss banks in Italy on Tuesday, a government spokesman said.

Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin defined the actions by the Finance Guard, backed up by revenue service agents, as ''a discriminatory act'' and said his government was ''concerned'' over the raids, the Swiss ATS news agency reported.

Tuesday raids were the latest and most high-profile development in Italy's crackdown on tax evasion, which has also included offering a tax amnesty for Italians who declare their foreign-held assets.

The 76 Swiss bank branches and finance company offices were 'visited' to determine whether they were providing ''prompt and correct information'' to Italian authorities, a statement from the Finance Guard said on Tuesday.

Italy announced in August that it was investigating the financial positions of 170,000 Italians believed to have assets abroad.

Earlier this month, Italian tax authorities estimated that the amount of financial assets held abroad illegally by Italian was in the neighborhood of 300 billion euros.

The Finance Guard said it based this calculation on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and that it included 125 billion euros deposited by Italians in Switzerland and 86 billion in Luxembourg.

The Italian government is cracking down on tax evasion in order to compensate for falling state revenue caused by the global economic downturn.

The government also needs to raise cash to offset the cost of tax cuts it has promised.

In order to lure capital back to Italy, the government's tax amnesty, approved at the start of the month, said Italians need only pay 5% of back taxes owed to the state and would be given immunity from related crimes, including false accounting and illegally exporting capital. The Treasury estimates that it will raise some 4.5 billion euros from the amnesty.

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