Swiss Combating Challenges To Banking Secrecy, Policies

Switzerland is determined to resist growing world pressure to combat tax evasion by international companies and foreign nationals using Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes back home. "Switzerland has lifted its bank secrecy laws to help foreign investigators combat tax fraud. But this does not apply to tax evasion, which is not a crime in our country," says Jacques de Watteville, head of the Swiss foreign ministry's economic and financial affairs division. Switzerland, which represents one third of the offshore banking market for major companies and wealthy individuals, faces increasingly impatient demands from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to help close tax loopholes. De Watteville also condemned plans to pass on information about money laundering investigations to national tax authorities. "These plans would seriously impair the fight against international money laundering because they would erode confidence between financial intermediaries and the antimoney laundering authorities," he told the Swiss Futures and Options Assn. recently.

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