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Report: Portugal gives tax authorities automatic access to big bank balances

Portugal has issued a decree allowing tax authorities automatic access to bank account balances of more than €50,000 to help combat tax evasion and money laundering, Reuters reported May 10, citing the country's finance minister.

Previously, tax authorities needed a judge's permission to obtain information about bank account balances of the country's citizens. The decree had been approved by the Portuguese cabinet in 2016 but rejected at the time by President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza because he did not wish to exacerbate certain problems then affecting the banking sector.

Finance Minister Mario Centeno told a news briefing that with banks mostly profitable now and in a better position in terms of capital, "The conditions are in place from the financial and legal point of view to make this step ... crucial to combat tax fraud and evasion as well as money laundering."