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Deutsche Bank has "zero tolerance" for tax evaders: CEO

Juergen Fitschen, Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank AG speaks during an extraordinary shareholders meeting in Frankfurt April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph
Juergen Fitschen, Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank AG speaks during an extraordinary shareholders meeting in Frankfurt April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank has "zero tolerance" for customers seeking to evade taxes by holding assets in foreign accounts managed by the lender, Co-Chief Executive Juergen Fitschen told German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

"Tax evasion is a crime," Fitschen said in an interview. "It's unacceptable."

Germany's biggest lender has restrictive policies for dealing with its customers' overseas assets and all employees working in the area are aware of it, Fitschen said.

"We have zero tolerance," he said, adding that if the bank had the slightest indication that foreign assets handled by the bank were not taxed, it would demand that customers prove the assets were legitimate.

Tax evasion has become an election issue in Germany after the shock revelation that Uli Hoeness, the Bayern Munich soccer club president and an associate of Chancellor Angela Merkel, had turned himself into tax authorities over a secret Swiss bank account.

Germany's financial watchdog Bafin plans to take a closer look at banks' business in offshore tax havens.

Fitschen said he was confident the Bafin enquiry would bring a good result. "As in other areas, we have nothing to hide."

Separately, UBS Chairman Axel Weber told Wirtschaftswoche magazine that Switzerland's biggest bank would no longer do business with customers seeking to evade taxes.

"I am confident that we can persuade the affected customers to put their situation with the German tax authorities in order," said Weber, who is a former Bundesbank president.

(Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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