News World Era of bank secrecy ends as Swiss start sharing account data

Era of bank secrecy ends as Swiss start sharing account data

The era of mystery-cloaked numbered Swiss bank accounts has officially come to a close as Switzerland, the world’s biggest centre for managing offshore wealth, began automatically sharing client data with tax authorities in dozens of other countries.

The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) said on Friday it had for the first time exchanged financial account data at the end of September under global standards that aim to crack down on tax cheats.

Bank secrecy still exists in some areas — Swiss authorities cannot automatically see what citizens have in their domestic bank accounts, for example — but gone are the days when well-paid European professionals could stash wealth across the border and beyond the prying eyes of their tax man.

The initial exchange was supposed to be with European Union countries plus nine other jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Norway and South Korea.

“Cyprus and Romania are currently excluded as they do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security,” the FTA said.

Transmission of data to Australia and France was delayed “as these states could not yet deliver data to the FTA due to technical reasons”, it said, adding that it also had not yet received data from Croatia, Estonia and Poland.

About 7,000 banks, trusts, insurers and other financial institutions registered with the FTA collect data on millions of accounts and send them on the Swiss tax agency. The FTA in turn sent information on around two million accounts to partner states. It put no value on the accounts in question.

The information includes the owner’s name, address, country of residence and tax identification number as well as the reporting institution, account balance and capital income. This lets authorities check whether taxpayers have correctly declared their foreign financial accounts.

The annual data swap will expand next year to about 80 partner states, provided they meet requirements on confidentiality and data security. The OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes reviews states’ implementation of the accord.

Under international pressure, Swiss banking secrecy has weakened for years, meaning rich people from around the world can no longer easily use the Alpine republic to hide wealth.

The changes have put Switzerland in fierce competition with faster-growing centres like Hong Kong and Singapore.

Top Stories

Three covid deaths in Cyprus, new cases drop further to 157 but fewer tests

  Cyprus recorded three covid deaths over the past 24 hours, raising the number to 170,  113 men and 57 women, with an average age...

Thousands protest in Amsterdam against Dutch coronavirus lockdown

  Several thousand today people held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being...

Search and rescue crews looking for woman off Larnaca

  The Search and Rescue Coordination Centre in Larnaca received a call around four in the afternoon about a 70 year old woman missing off...

Rapid Test locations on Monday Jan 18

Here are the rapid test locations for Monday January 18 Limassol Apostolos Loukas church, Ayios Athanasios (Ayios Athanasios refugee settlement) 8.30-4.30 Ayios Stylianos church, Linopetra 8.30-4.30 Mesa Yeitonia Cultural Centre...

German FM says COVID curbs should be eased for vaccinated people

  People who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should be allowed to go to restaurants and cinemas earlier than others, a German minister said, contradicting...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...