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France, Germany Want Global Black List for Tax Havens

March 3, 2009

In the future, no country, no institution and no financial product should be allowed to remain beyond regulation. That was the conclusion after the French and German finance ministers met in Paris on Tuesday, March 3.

Euro notes pinned to a clothes line
France and Germany want anyone laundering money or evading taxes to be hung out to dryImage: dpa - Bildfunk

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and her German counterpart Peer Steinbrueck said future action must be taken against any financial center that does not cooperate in the fight against tax fraud and money laundering.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is to prepare a "black list" of uncooperative countries for the next G20 summit, to be held in London on April 2.

The two finance ministers came together in the French capital to coordinate preparations for that meeting, which will focus the deepening global economic and financial crisis.

Lagarde demanded that all banks currently active in tax havens be forced to issue annual reports on their activities. For his part, Steinbrueck said that tax havens would be on the G20 summit agenda.

"We want to act with determination against uncooperative places on matters of taxation, financial security or money-laundering," said Lagarde.

Switzerland uncooperative

A Swiss cross at a border crossing
Switzerland has been at the center of a recent tax evasion scandalImage: dpa

Asked about Switzerland -- recently criticized as being an uncooperative tax haven by French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- the German finance minister said the Swiss had "officially not been cooperative at all."

Lagarde said countries should stop making bilateral deals "with countries that refuse to incorporate the highest standards of the OECD and the United Nations" and force financiers to declare any dealings with such countries.

Lagarde and Steinbrueck both said that no new economic stimulus packages were being planned, and agreed that the resources of the International Monetary Fund should be doubled, to $500 billion.