News Column

Offshore Revelations Force Ouster of Austrian Bank Chief

May 24, 2013

Austrian bank executive Herbert Stepic offered his resignation Friday as head of Raiffeisen Bank International, after his private offshore deals in Asia were discovered in a leaked list of 130,000 tax haven users around the world.

The chief executive of one of the largest banks operating in Central and Eastern Europe denied any wrongdoing in his three real estate deals in Singapore that were handled through firms in the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.

Stepic said Thursday's revelations by magazine News referred to "private investments in the years 2006 and 2008" that were taxed in Austria rather than in off-shore tax havens.

Austria's central bank and financial market authority said they would look into the matter.

While Raiffeisen's supervisory board has yet to formally accept Stepic's resignation, it implied it would do so in a statement which said that "credit should be given to him taking this difficult decision and so fending off damage for the company's image."

In April, international newspapers began publishing names of 130,000 people from 170 countries making use of offshore tax havens. An anonymous source had originally leaked the data to the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

In the wake of the revelations, EU banking secrecy stalwarts Luxembourg and Austria made concessions on wider information sharing to fight tax evasion.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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