Page last updated at 21:17 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 22:17 UK

OECD members pressure tax havens

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck
Germany said it was pleased with the agreement

Ministers from 18 countries have backed a plan to impose sanctions on countries who do not do enough to clamp down on tax fraud.

Leading members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development were meeting to put pressure on nations who break their laws on tax havens.

But the group did not say what those sanctions might be.

Germany and France have been leading an ongoing initiative to make tax rules for foreigners more transparent.

"You have here before you extremely happy French and German ministers," German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said.

A communiqué issued by ministers from the 18 countries called for "defensive measures" to encourage quick action.

Ministers also discussed efforts made by countries to combat banking secrecy and to assess progress made by countries on an OECD "grey list" of states which need to improve their tax co-operation standards.

The countries who signed the communiqué included Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg - all of which are on the "grey list".

In March, Switzerland, the world's largest offshore financial centre, agreed to accept concessions on bank secrecy.

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