Friday, May 24, 2013

Swiss Bankers Favor Automatic Information Exchange?

Update: this isn't entirely fresh news after all, it turns out: see expanded story below.

That's the headline from Taxnews.com:
President of the Swiss Private Bankers Association (SPBA) Nicolas Pictet has urged the Federal Council to abandon its "white money" strategy, and to opt instead for an automatic information exchange regime, in particular with the European Union (EU).
The Swiss Private Bankers' Association is an incredibly influential organisation inside Switzerland. It should also be noticed in this context that whenever Switzerland has made any kind of retreat on banking secrecy in the face of international pressure, it has almost always been when that pressure has been directed at the banks, rather than at Switzerland itself. So even if we don't usually like the SPBA's message, we do listen to them.

We see, in fact, that Pictet was in fact quoted as saying this a few days ago:
"The Swiss private bankers are pushing for a rapid solution to the tax dispute. Their President, Nicolas Pictet, pleaded beginning of May in interviews for a departure from the white money strategy towards an automatic information exchange with the EU.
It continues:
"Underlining the significance of Austria and Luxembourg’s decision to support plans for an automatic information exchange at EU level, to ensure a level playing field and to combat tax evasion, Pictet pointed out that their u-turn has dramatically changed the situation for Switzerland.

Pictet insisted that automatic exchange of information with the EU is a better solution than the Federal Council’s white money strategy, currently being debated in the Swiss parliament. Switzerland’s white money strategy is unique to the Confederation, and not recognized at international level, Pictet explained.

Given that it makes absolutely no sense to adopt two different solutions to ensure tax conformity, and in view of the fact that the EU intends to begin negotiations with Switzerland shortly on information exchange, there is a clear need to change tack, the SPBA president stressed. Bankers need Switzerland to clarify its position rapidly, to remove current uncertainties that will ultimately prove damaging to businesses and endanger jobs in Switzerland, Pictet added."
Even though nothing has actually changed here, this, on the face of it, appears to be welcome news.

Hat tip: Tax Research

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