Korea to probe Swiss bank accounts

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Korea to probe Swiss bank accounts

Korea’s tax office said yesterday it will gain access to check Swiss bank accounts held by its citizens, which could help detect illegal slush funds and prevent tax evasion.

Seoul and Bern signed a pact in 2010 permitting sharing of financial- and tax-related information, the National Tax Service (NTS) said. It has been approved by Korean lawmakers, with their Swiss counterparts to follow suit in July.

Once formal ratifications are complete, Seoul will have the authority to check accounts. The tax office said such a move will revolutionize its ability to cope with tax evaders.

In the past, Swiss banks have resisted outside scrutiny due to protecting the privacy of depositors, with the country gaining notoriety as a tax haven for the rich seeking to avoid legal obligations.

The NTS said the pact will fuel business by lowering tax burdens on companies and individuals in such areas as dividend earnings. Yonhap

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