“If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank,” Woody Allen, the American comedian, quipped in his 1975 book, 'Without Feathers' and in a bizarre development, Switzerland, the world's biggest personal tax haven, has reopened a case where a federal minister has been accused of hiding company funds in offshore letter-box companies to evade tax.
Johann Schneider-Amman, the federal economic affairs minster, is alleged as head of a construction machinery company in 1989-2010, to have used letter-box companies in Jersey and Luxembourg to hide funds that should have been taxed in Switzerland.
The finance department of canton Bern responded on Thursday to a disclosure on Wednesday by SRF, the public broadcaster, of a memo written by the Federal Tax Authorities (FTA) which raised questions about a previous investigation of the offshore funds.
Canton Bern said it would reexamine the records of the firm which show that it held CHF264m ($281.9m) in Jersey and that the funds were transferred to Switzerland in 2009, one year before Schneider-Ammann was elected to the cabinet. The firm also held funds in Luxembourg which were later moved over to Switzerland.
The newly published document, dated February 2014, says that a federal tax inspector concluded the group’s money was not earned in Jersey or Luxembourg, but in fact in Switzerland and should therefore have been taxable.
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Tax evasion and tax fraud in Switzerland