Several cantonal banks announced on Monday that they will be taking part in the US tax declaration programme aimed at enabling them to escape prosecution for not revealing information regarding possible US tax evaders.
The larger financial institutions – Aargau, St. Gallen, Zug, Graubünden, Lucerne, Vaud, Geneva and Nidwalden - acting upon the advice of Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), have opted to place themselves in category two on the grounds that they cannot rule out the possibility that they may have clients who evaded taxes in the US.
The cantonal bank of Schwyz chose category four, stating it did not have US residents as clients and had very few clients with an American passport. Fewer than 2% of all the bank’s customers come from outside of Switzerland or the EU.
The cantonal banks of Basel Country, Appenzell, Glarus and Uri have also joined this category.
Swiss banks have until the end of the year to take part in the deal struck with the US and signed in August.
There are four categories in total; the first group consists of the 14 banks already under investigation, including UBS, Credit Suisse and the Zurich and Basel cantonal banks.
The second category is for banks that know or suspect that they have clients who have committed tax evasion offences in the US. Some banks, such as the Valiant group, have placed themselves in this category on the grounds that they cannot know if individual clients have failed to declare their assets.
The third group is for those who have US customers, but believe they are fully compliant with the tax regulations, and the fourth is for those whose non-local customers make up less than 2% of the total.