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Germans sneak money home from Swiss banks (in adult diapers, corsets)

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Sept. 4. 12, 2013.

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Evading taxes
Germans are finding ever more inventive ways to sneak cash back home from Swiss banks amid the controversy over tax evasion.

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Bloomberg news reports today that the moves have been spurred by a push for banks to stop handling money that has not been declared. There has also been a high-profile case of a German executive charged over allegations of skirting taxes through an account in Switzerland.

According to the news agency, some 36,000 Germans have sought amnesty for money that hasn't been declared, while others face legal action for not declaring funds of more than €10,000 at the border.

This comes amid an election campaign in Germany.

Customs authorities have found cash hidden in shoes, car batteries and underwear, the news agency said. Last year, officials at the German-Swiss border found some €20-million in undeclared money, so it's no small matter.

And then there are those who go the extra mile.

"We had a 72-year-old man wearing a woman's corset with €150,000 stuffed inside," one customs official told Bloomberg.

"In another instance, a man had on two incontinence diapers with nearly $140,000 in between."

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Central bank holds firm
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz's hope of an export and business-led economic rebound remains elusive, prompting the central bank to once again delay a return to higher rates, The Globe and Mail's Barrie McKenna reports.

The central bank left its key overnight rate unchanged today 1 per cent, where it has held at since September 2010. It marked the 24th consecutive time that the bank has left the rate untouched.

"Uncertain global economic conditions appear to be delaying the anticipated rotation of demand in Canada towards exports and investment," the bank said at the conclusion of Mr. Poloz's second rate-setting decision since taking over from Mark Carney in June.

Most economists don't expect the central bank to start hiking rates until next fall at the earliest, particularly now as higher mortgage rates begin to contain the once-hot real estate market.

The central bank said it won't change its interest rate stance as long as inflation remains muted, there's slack in the economy and the housing market gradually cools.

Trade gap widens
Canadian exports slipped while imports climbed, widening the country's trade deficit to $931-million in July from $460-million a month earlier.

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Exports to the European Union were hit hard, according to numbers released today by Statistics Canada.

On one side of the ledger, overall exports fell by 0.6 per cent. Volumes fell 1.7 per cent, largely on reduced aircraft shipments, while export prices rose 1.1 per cent, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

On the other side, imports rose 0.6 per cent as volumes climbed 1 per cent and prices dipped 0.4 per cent.

Canadian exports to the United States, the country's main trading partner, rose 0.8 per cent, but imports from the U.S. also increased, by 2.7 per cent, narrowing the trade surplus to $3.2-billion from $3.6-billion in June.

Exports to other countries fell 4.5 per cent, with those to Europe being hit to the tune of almost 16 per cent.

Imports from other countries also slipped, by 3.1 per cent.

"Weak demand in Europe is clearly hurting exporters," said senior economist Jennifer Lee of BMO Nesbitt Burns. "A modest 0.8-per-cent gain in exports to the U.S. provided only a modest offset."

European economy slightly better
It may only be one-tenth of a percentage point, but, hey, the Europeans will take it.

The combined economies of the 27 countries that make up the European Union expanded by 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of the year, a revision from an earlier reading of 0.3 per cent.

The economies of the 17 nations of the smaller euro zone, however, eked out growth of 0.3 per cent, no change from the earlier measure.

And Down Under, Australia's statistics agency reported today that the economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter.

South African miners on strike
Almost 80,000 mineworkers have dealt a blow to South Africa's gold mining industry with a strike that began last night, The Globe and Mail's Geoffrey York reports from Johannesburg.

Of 23 gold mines targeted, 17 have had to either stop production or operate on a reduced work force.

There was some hope today on reports that a leading union has offered to but its demand for wage hikes of 60 per cent, though there were no details.

The companies insist they can't offer more than 6.5 per cent.

The strike is expected to cost the economy some $60-million a day.

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