Skip Nav
Personal Finance
See If You Might Accidentally Be Committing Credit Card Fraud
Financial Planning
3 Secrets to Creating a Budget You'll Actually Follow
Job Search
The Dos and Don'ts For Entry-Level Job Seekers

Open the Vault! Switzerland Pushed to End Bank Secrecy

Got a couple of million bucks lying around you'd like to stash on the hush-hush? Before visions of a Swiss bank account dance in your head, consider this: countries are fed up with Switzerland's refusal to help them catch tax evaders.

Hiding behind Swiss secrecy laws, suspected savvy criminals have used Switzerland as a financial loophole, illegally siphoning money away from government coffers. The Swiss government does nothing to assist foreign authorities locate the squirreled loot. By remaining neutral, Switzerland effectively takes the side of the criminals.

The Swiss people liken confidentiality between bankers and customers to that enjoyed by doctors and patients. The population overwhelmingly approves of the tradition, which attracts as much as $2 trillion in foreign money.

Other countries are ready to play hardball in order to get the secrecy laws changed. By withholding passport free travel, or other perks enjoyed by allies, the neighbors most impacted hope Switzerland will be pressured to change.

This controversy reveals an interesting gray area of national sovereignty. Should Switzerland be able to impose banking rules as it pleases, or should all the other countries be free to collect tax money that is rightfully theirs?


Join The Conversation
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Emma, that actually do it out of the kindness in their hearts. ;)
emma- emma- 9 years
I'm guessing swiss banks get a really big percentage for these secret transactions?
seven7 seven7 9 years
@samantha999 First off, yes the Jews did go to Switzerland during world war II, yes they did put their money in Swiss bank accounts, but not only that, they were also PROTECTED by Switzerland. The only country that has paid any holocaust money back, and anything meaning more than $1'000'000 has been paid back. No other country has paid anything back to anyone, and Switzerland was not the only nation with Jew money. As for the Gypsies and gays comment... I don't even know where that came from, but it doesn't give your statement much credibility whatsoever. Furthermore the comment "I guess for them Karma is about to be a BIG b*tch!" Let's look at the war in Kosovo... Switzerland one of the smallest countries in Europe, took the highest ratio of asylants from the war. The highest. The US with a population of about 240 million took in 100000...Switzerland with a population of 8 million...took in 180'000 asylants...that also happens to be more than Germany took in, and the list goes on with other countries but I won't go there. Get all your facts together before you start saying things like that, because I have a LONG list of examples. I would never make such rash statements about any country. You need to know what you are talking about when you involve things like karma. As for tax evasion...there is tax in Switzerland also. DUH! If people move there, or to whatever other countries people move to save on tax, they still have to abide with the local tax laws. If someone decides to evade their tax laws in their own country...thereby in many cases abandoning the country they live in that is their problem. I'm not saying tax evasion is right by any means. In addition to this Switzerland was one of the most cooperative countries working with the CIA/FBI. You REALLY need to go do your research on both sides here.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
Think about why these laws were enacted. To protect Nazis. No other reason. They have continued due to Swiss greed. They do not care about foreigners only Swiss citizens (read the article). They should not protect foreign interests hiding money. They want their citizens not to pay taxes- fine. Hidden money means no taxes paid - either government funding is cut to schools, police, hospitals etc... or YOUR taxes go up.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I hope they do not give in.
rpenner rpenner 9 years
The Swiss should not change their laws. They are entitled to making their own laws and if theire people are happy with them than other governments do not have the right to try and force a change.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
The Swiss have never been neutral. Read about them and you will know they side with the "criminals." Also ever dollar they "hide" is a dollar that is not taxed. It is not you or me that benefit but the rich and powerful. If this was a company avoiding taxes by banking in one of less then a half dozen countries that shelter money you would be screaming they were avoiding their due share. Tax evasion is a crime - a white collar crime but a crime none the less.
annalia05 annalia05 9 years
"By remaining neutral, Switzerland effectively takes the side of the criminals." That's quite a stretch! By remaining neutral, Switzerland effectively takes the side of privacy. It's their country, their laws. They have say over what happens and it doesn't mean they are purposefully aiding criminals.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
No, Switzerland should not change their laws. The government of Switzerland belongs to the Swiss and if Swiss citizens are happy with this financial tradition which they seem to cherish and have no problem with than I do not think it is right for other governments to bully their government into changing a long standing tradition which its people are very happy with.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
I believe the Swiss have the right to run their banking system as they see fit, but the flip side is that other countries are able to then take economic measures against them for doing it. I'm honestly surprised we haven't seen countries take a stronger economic stance before, but in all I believe this is somewhat useless as they are not the only country that allows people to "hide" money there.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
This issue already made the European dispatches last week. The NYT has lifted part of their article from them. The Germans are pissed and are now raising hell regarding hidden money. They want their taxes paid to them. I find it funny that the secretive Swiss banking system was started due to and in large part for the Nazi's. That way they could hide the money the stole from Jews. Gays, Gypsies and others. Those that had accounts before the number system lost their money because they could not prove their accounts. The Swiss laughed and kept the cash. I guess for them Karma is about to be a BIG BITCH!
Undocumented Father Detained by ICE
JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case Information
Harry Styles Talking About Manchester Attack at Concert
Collagen Smoothie at Jamba Juice
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds