Swiss politicians will vote on Sept. 23 on a new tax law that could end the use of their country’s banks as a tax haven for rich Greeks trying to avoid paying taxes while Greece country is undergoing a crushing economic crisis and deep recession and many residents have seen their pay cut, taxes hiked and pensions slashed.
Greek officials have said that many of the country’s wealthy put their money in Swiss and foreign banks and offshore accounts and have been trying to get an agreement to obtain more information about it.
Swiss Socialist MP Margret Kiener Nellen told the Swiss Le Matin newspaper that, “We should end this special tax treatment for foreign Greek families. In Gstaat, for example, thirteen Greek multi-millionaire families can be found which pay extremely low taxes. It’s a scandal.”
The proposed Swiss law deal with a “Fair and equal taxation system for families,” and has set off hard debate as the country’s banks want to lure big accounts and offer secrecy in return, but, as former Greek prime minister George Papandreou noted, they are being used to hide assets. He was hounded out of office after ceaseless protests, strikes and riots he imposed on orders of international lenders but failed to go after the tax cheats he partially blamed for his fall.
Greeks are not the only foreigners who “tax migrate” to Switzerland; there are many French as well, including famous rock star Johnny Halliday. Just like Greeks, Halliday, along with other 200 multi-millionaires, found a hideaway for his money in Bern, in the winter resort of Gstaad and in surrounding areas which offer low tax rates.