Direct democracy Switzerland: How To
Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]

Closing the books


Deadline agreed for unclaimed bank assets


By Urs Geiser



The reform is the result of a controversy over Holocaust era assets in Swiss banks (Keystone)

The reform is the result of a controversy over Holocaust era assets in Swiss banks

(Keystone)

Parliament has decided to set a deadline for clients to claim dormant assets in Swiss banks, ending years of debate in the wake of an international controversy over accounts of Holocaust victims.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday followed the Senate, giving heirs a total of 62 years to recover dormant assets.

This comprises a 50-year limit before banks can liquidate such accounts and an additional 12-year legal deadline. The unclaimed funds will go to the federal authorities.

Supporters, including the main centre-right and rightwing parties as well as Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, argued that the terms were realistic and Switzerland had tougher rules than most other countries.

They warned of administrative costs of maintaining an account with dormant assets.

Reputation risk

However, the centre-left unsuccessfully wanted to grant heirs up to 112 years to claim the money. They said the reputation of Swiss banks was at stake if dormant accounts could be closed too early.

There is currently an estimated CHF600 million ($636 million) of unclaimed assets in Swiss banks.

Tuesday’s decision is the latest stage in a tug of war over a reform of the banking law.

The cabinet initially proposed a 30-year deadline in its bill to parliament.

In 1999, the cabinet decided to propose a reform of the banking law in a bid to avoid a repeat of a scandal over dormant accounts belonging to Jewish bank clients from the Second World War.

Opposition, particularly from commercial banks, forced the government to review the bill several times over the past decade.

swissinfo.ch and agencies



Links

Copyright

All rights reserved. The content of the website by swissinfo.ch is copyrighted. It is intended for private use only. Any other use of the website content beyond the use stipulated above, particularly the distribution, modification, transmission, storage and copying requires prior written consent of swissinfo.ch. Should you be interested in any such use of the website content, please contact us via contact@swissinfo.ch.

As regards the use for private purposes, it is only permitted to use a hyperlink to specific content, and to place it on your own website or a website of third parties. The swissinfo.ch website content may only be embedded in an ad-free environment without any modifications. Specifically applying to all software, folders, data and their content provided for download by the swissinfo.ch website, a basic, non-exclusive and non-transferable license is granted that is restricted to the one-time downloading and saving of said data on private devices. All other rights remain the property of swissinfo.ch. In particular, any sale or commercial use of these data is prohibited.

×

Focus