Portuguese parliament approves project to lift bank secrecy

By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

The Portuguese parliament has agreed in principal to put an end to blanket bank secrecy in Portugal.

The proposal, approved on Thursday means that the government will soon be able to delve into bank accounts in cases of non-justifiable enrichment as well as through existing legislation which allows bank secrecy to be lifted in cases of fraud and tax evasion investigation.

The government and parliament will have between now and July to debate the law and clear up a number of cross-party differences on how relaxation of bank secrecy should be applied.

Francisco Louça (BES) hailed the vote as “a new beginning for democracy after many lost years in the fight against corruption and tax evasion”.

The Finance Minister, Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, also hinted that those unable to provide legitimate business explanations for sudden fortunes would find themselves facing a 60 per cent tax on amounts over 100,000 euros in bank accounts not justified on tax returns.

Another idea on the table in the fight against off-shore fiscal paradises is the so-called Tobin Tax – an excise tax on cross-border currency transactions which is enacted by national parliaments and enforced by multinational cooperation and which is aimed to help tame currency market volatility and restore economic sovereignty, as well as a 75 per cent tax on company director bonuses.

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