Swiss Socialists Call for Abolition of Banking Secrecy

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke@anu.edu.au
Sat, 12 Oct 1996 11:47:55 +1000


Via Ooi Chuin Nee again ...

So Switzerland is moving from the grey economy to the white economy?  (:-)}


Agence France Presse: Tuesday, October 1, 1996

Swiss Socialists Call for Abolition of Banking Secrecy

BERN-- Socialist members of the Swiss parliament tabled a motion calling for
abolition of banking secrecy to combat tax evasion, on Tuesday.

The motion urged the government to act quickly to remove article 47 of federal
banking law which lays down penalties of six months in prison and/or a fine of
50,000 Swiss francs (40,000 dollars) for any breach of banking secrecy.

The penalties may be enforced against anyone who works, or has worked, in the
banking sector.

The law was approved in 1934 to protect people, notably Jews, being persecuted
by Hitler's Nazi party in Germany who risked the death penalty for trying to
protect their assets in foreign banks and other institutions.

"At the time this law was adopted against the activities of the Gestapo (German
Nazi police) I would have voted in favour," said member of parliament Jean
Ziegler who tabled the motion in the name of the socialist group. "But today it
has resulted in total protection and serves only to facilitate the flight of
capital from the Third World and tax evasion."

The intention was to enable Switzerland to "adopt the European norm" concerning
banking secrecy, he said.

Removal of the penalties would not in any way affect normal "commercial
confidentiality", he said.

Late on Monday members of parliament voted unanimously in the national council
to set up an independent enquiry to investigate Switzerland's financial
dealings, notably in gold, with Nazi forces before and during World War II and
what has become of assets placed by the persecuted in bank accounts, and
through insurance policies and lawyers.

Banking secrecy is to be lifted for the members of this commission to enable
them to investigate accounts in private banks and in the central bank.


Roger Clarke              http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
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