World Bulletin/News Desk
A total of 52 countries and regions have agreed to automatically exchange information on taxpayers, in what their representatives say is a move to crack down on tax evasion.
The Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) agreement, which enables tax authorities of the signatories to automatically exchange information on taxpayers' income and assets on a reciprocal basis, was signed in Berlin on Wednesday at a Global Forum conference organized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble said at the signing ceremony in the German capital: "This is an important step for greater cross-border cooperation between tax authorities."
"This would bring great success in the fight against international tax evasion."
By signing the agreement on Wednesday, 52 countries and regions pledged to undertake the first exchanges of tax information by 2017.
Under the deal, information on taxpayers' offshore accounts, account balances and beneficial ownerships will be among a wide range of information exchanged between tax authorities, according to a joint statement by the signatory states.
The statement read: "This will make it possible to stamp out the crime of tax evasion and to tackle tax fraud."
The OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurria hailed the agreement as a major step to boost international cooperation against tax evasion.
He said: "We are making concrete progress toward the G20 objective of winning the fight against tax evasion."
"The world is quickly becoming a smaller place for tax cheats, and we are determined to ensure that developing countries also reap the benefits of greater financial sector transparency."
Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Malta, Gibraltar, the Faroe Islands and Cayman Islands were among the signatory parties.
A total of 35 states and regions, which have been participants of the Global Forum but have not yet signed the agreement, indicated willingness to undertake the first exchanges of information by 2018.
Last Mod: 29 Ekim 2014, 23:08