Luxembourg agrees to share bank account data from 2015

Luxembourg has agreed to put in place an automatic mechanism under which it would start exchanging bank account information with the rest of Europe from 2015.

Luxemburg's decision to ease its banking secrecy rules, under international pressure, would help fight tax evasion.

Luxemburg's current policy of banking secrecy helps people hide money from tax authorities in the tiny country of half a million people.

''We can introduce the automatic exchange of (bank account) information without any danger from January 2015,'' Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker said.

He, however, denied that the country's financial services sector has benefited from a strong tradition of bank secrecy to attract funds.

''The financial sector does not depend totally on bank secrecy,'' he said, adding: ''The lights are not going to go out'' with the change.

Juncker insisted that Luxembourg did not make its living ''off dirty money or tax evasion,'' adding that there had been pressure from the US.

Under the current EU rules, already agreed to by Luxembourg, countries are supposed to help each other combat tax evasion by ensuring the exchange of bank account information.

But the change in Luxemburg will come only in January 2015, when the rules change to make such information exchanges automatic and across a wider spectrum to include shell companies, life insurance, pension and property investments.