It looks like the secret location of the hundreds of billions of supposedly well hidden assets isn't so secret after all. The Italian tax amnesty program has been pretty successful so far in bringing the hidden fortunes of the country's wealthy citizens back inside its borders. Business is good. So good in fact that Italian authorities are taking the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot and go for the mother lode. But authorities around the world have gone on at length about the difficulties involved in locating the piles of cash. They could be in any number of places. Including right at their doorstep.
Italy believes up to €125 billion (SFr188.8 billion) of undeclared assets are hidden in Ticino banks, more than half of the worldwide total.
The Swiss put up a huge fight when the IRS wanted the names (and assets) of a couple thousand Americans. The prospect of seeing over €100 billion jump the border fence back into Italy can't sound too appealing. But this is just a sign of the times and both nations should be able to be civil about the situation.
Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti has talked about "bleeding Lugano's banking sector dry".
Sounds like a fight is brewing. Maybe the Swiss have some fuel of their own to pour onto the fire?
"This is not what we consider a neighbourly relationship," said a ministry spokeswoman.
"Aggressive" Italian tax tactics anger Swiss [swissinfo .ch]