U.S. and E.U. Pressure Spells End of Swiss Bank Secrecy: Nachrichten of Switzerland

The Swiss are up in arms today because of the fear that the IRS – along with the European Union – is about to put an end to legendary Swiss bank secrecy. Who among us hasn’t seen films or TV programs that featured this most prized commodity – a secret Swiss bank account? Well that may all be over soon. The issue causing the controversy is that UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, paid $780 million in fines and agreed to hand over to the IRS client data on 250-300 customers to avert criminal proceedings related to a tax evasion charges. But now the U.S. is pushing to look into UBS’ records at its 52,000 other clients.

WORLDMEETS.US has translated two articles from the Swiss on this issue over the past 24 hours, one from German and one from French – that reflect the panic in Switzerland – where a full third of all of the planet’s private banking assets are now located.

In an article from Switzerland’s Nachrichten newspaper headlined: U.S. and E.U. Pressure Spells End of Swiss Bank Secrecy, Patrik Etschmayer writes in part:

“First it was just rhetoric, but then pressure grew. Now the bulwark of Swiss bank secrecy is substantially crumbling, and it’s likely only a matter of time before it’s a thing of the past. The surrendering of client-data to American tax authorities last week was the starting shot – the infamous beginning of the end. On the weekend came the next blow: At the E.U.-summit in Berlin, it was announced that in order to rebuild confidence in the markets, Europe is planning to impose complete control over all financial markets, products and players.”

“It is a fact that the global financial system can no longer cope with local rules, laws and regulations. As part of this globalization of regulation, it will only be a matter of time before Switzerland, too, buckles under.”

Then from Le Temps of Switzerland, in an article headlined: Wake Up! Swiss Bank Secrecy is Under Threat!, Pierre Veya writes in part:

“Let us not feign the surprise of the good student. Several analysts have proposed the opening of a discussion on “bank secrecy” – not to abandon it, but to include it in a vision that reconciles our interests with those of countries that grant tax authorities the right to look directly at the property and wealth of its citizens. For a long time – too long – the [Swiss] Finance Ministry, banking associations and a broad cross-section of the political class thought that we might find a way to parry the attacks. Clearly [it was thought], there was no need to open Pandora’s Box.

Undoubtedly, the temporary agreement (this is often forgotten) negotiated with Europe on the taxation of savings has comforted us with the idea that we could escape an ultimatum as dangerous and brutal as the one just issued by the United States against our legal system. We had even proclaimed to the world: “Swiss bank secrecy is not negotiable.” And yet, here we are constrained to imagine how to negotiate its future.”

Tune in on March 5 to WORLDMEETS.US on BlogTalkRadio, when we interview Swiss journalist Patrik Etschmayer about this issue and the global economic crisis in general.

By Patrik Etschmayer

Translated By Patrik Etschmayer

February 23, 2009

Switzerland – Nachrichten – Original Article (German)

First it was just rhetoric, but then pressure grew. Now the bulwark of Swiss bank secrecy is substantially crumbling, and it’s likely only a matter of time before it’s a thing of the past.

The surrendering of client-data to American tax authorities last week was the starting shot – the infamous beginning of the end. On the weekend came the next blow: At the E.U.-summit in Berlin, it was announced that in order to rebuild confidence in the markets, Europe is planning to impose complete control over all financial markets, products and players.

[Editor's Note: On Wednesday [Feb. 25], UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, paid $780 million in fines and agreed to hand over details to the IRS of 250-300 customers to avert criminal proceedings relating to a tax evasion investigation].


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Author: WILLIAM KERN (Worldmeets.US)

Founder and Managing Editor of Worldmeets.US