Switzerland is the most secretive financial centre in the world, followed by the United States, according to the Tax Justice Network, a non-governmental organization that campaigns for greater transparency.
The Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates and Guernsey (in descending order) were ranked in the top ten of the NGOs Financial Secrecy Indexexternal link, published on Tuesday.
The NGO said Switzerlandexternal link, the world’s largest centre for overseas wealth, had made several improvements to its secrecy regime in recent years, following concerted pressure from the US, the European Union and others.
But it added: “The concessions made – nearly always in response to pressure against Swiss banks, rather than against Switzerland itself – can to some degree be summarised as “white money for rich and powerful countries; black money for vulnerable and developing countries.” So, the Swiss will exchange information with rich countries if they have to, but will continue offering citizens of poorer countries the opportunity to evade their taxpaying responsibilities.”
The authors also criticized Switzerland’s ongoing aggressive pursuit of financial whistleblowers.
According to the Swiss Bankers’ Association banks in Switzerland hold CHF6.65 trillion ($6.5 trillion) in assets under management, of which 48% originated from abroad.
The index, which is published every two years, checks countries using several criteria including how much information they provide about the ownership of trusts or foundations and the degree to which they respect money-laundering rules. The analysis looked at 110 countries.