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Nowotny Concerned About Reputation of Austrian Banks

Published: April 22, 2013; 15:16 · (Vindobona)

Ewald Nowotny, Govenor of the Austrian National Bank (OeNB), is critical towards the continuing debate about keeping the bank secrecy. He fears that doubts in the integrity of the domestic banking sector could emerge.

Nowotny Concerned About Reputation of Austrian Banks / Picture: © Wikipedia / Christian Wirth (Wirthi)

On the occasion of a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, Govenor of OeNB presented himself concerned about the reputation of Austrian banks. The debate about the bank secret in Austria must not harm the international trust in the Austrian banking industry, Nowotny warns. According to him it would be “very dangerous” if doubts about the integrity of the Austrian banking system arose due to the current discussions, he declared, according to a report by Austrian newspaper Kurier, during the meeting in Washington.

Concerning the reputation of Austrian banks, no doubts are justified. Nowotny explained that Austria was certainly not a tax haven. He regards it crucial that this is seen the same way by other countries. He called it a sensitive situation which should be discussed together with the banks. At the same time, Nowotny emphasized that the automatic exchange of information is going to become the new international standard. According to him, this was announced at the most recent Ecofin council. He added it was “a separate question whether this was good or bad”.

Harald Waiglein, Department Director of the Federal Ministry of Finance, pointed out during the meeting in Washington that an automatic exchange of information could only work if the respective information was collected accordingly. In answer to the question what the government in Vienna can picture in return of the bank secrecy, Waiglein announced that transparency on all levels were needed. He referred to studies by the EU Commission, where the bank secret was of subordinate importance compared with the corporate law. He suggested that instead of talking about the bank secret, the government should talk about a trust register.