Tax evasion, bank secrecy themes as Merkel visits Switzerland

Berlin  - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to raise the contentious issue of tax evasion and Swiss bank secrecy when she visits Berne this week, the official government spokesman said Monday.

Merkel would discuss a range of bilateral, European and international issues in meetings Tuesday with President Pascal Couchepin, Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger, Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, the spokesman said.

In answer to a journalist's question regarding tax evasion by German residents and Swiss bank secrecy, Ulrich Wilhelm said he "assumed" that these issues would come up.

Tax evasion by wealthy Germans was highlighted in February, when the head of Deutsche Post, Klaus Zumwinkel, was forced to resign after being accused of stashing funds away in Liechtenstein.

German tax authorities reported that hundreds of taxpayers had amended their declarations after it became known the authorities were in possession of computer disks containing information on accounts held in the alpine principality and in Switzerland.

The Swiss side is likely to raise the issue of restrictions on flights into and from Zurich airport overflying Germany's Black Forest region. (dpa)