The Swiss Federal Council has appointed Michael Ambühl as state secretary for international financial and tax matters within the Federal Department of Finance, and Alexander Karrer as deputy state secretary.
The newly-created State Secretariat will be responsible for the coordination and strategic management of international financial, monetary and tax matters, and will reinforce Switzerland's international position in financial and tax matters, the department said in a statement.
The appointment comes at a time when Switzerland's banking industry, which generates about 13 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, has come under intense pressure from foreign governments attempting to breach historic Swiss bank secrecy laws in their hunt for alleged tax dodgers. Developments have raised concerns that the Swiss government and banking sector needs to be more effective in making its case on the international stage.
Mr Ambühl is an experienced diplomat and negotiator, who most recently led negotiations between Switzerland and the US authorities concerning UBS, which has been involved in a high-profile row over allegations the Zurich-listed bank helped US citizens avoid taxes. His career also includes having been secretary and head of the directorate of political affairs in the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs.
In 2002 Mr Karrer developed the monetary affairs and international finance division of the Federal Department of Finance as its head in the position of ambassador and has been running it since then. He has also served as a negotiator in the GATT Uruguay Round for the Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs, an advisor on economic matters in Tokyo and as personal advisor to federal councillor Kaspar Villiger.