International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

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Tax evaders to be outed under historic Swiss-EU accord

Switzerland.

Europe’s Swiss bank account holders will have their information automatically shared with their home country under a historic tax transparency agreement signed by Switzerland and the European Union on Wednesday. 

The accord, which is set to become effective from 2018, would end banking secrecy for EU citizens using Swiss accounts, and has been touted by EU tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici as “another blow against tax evaders.”

“Today's agreement heralds a new era of tax transparency and cooperation between the EU and Switzerland,” he said in a statement.

However the agreement will need to be ratified in Switzerland before it can take effect, a process that could involve a referendum, according to Swiss news outlet swissinfo.ch.

Over the past few years Swiss authorities have faced growing pressure to increase transparency of the country's traditionally secretive banking system.

The Swiss federal gazette has been quietly publishing the names of foreign Swiss account holders subject to tax information requests in their home countries since 2012, but a rapidly growing list has now caught the attention of journalists, who have started reporting on some of the individuals named.

The jurisdiction was also in the spotlight earlier in the year following ICIJ’s Swiss Leaks investigation, which revealed how some clients used HSBC’s private Swiss bank to hide their money from authorities in other countries.

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