Soon, Swiss banking secrecy will no longer protect foreign clients after the Senate on Monday rubber stamped a reform allowing the automatic exchange of tax information (AIE) with selected countries.
Parliament has now approved the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which was developed jointly by the Council of Europe and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).
Switzerland is scheduled to start automatically passing on tax information with selected countries at the start of 2018. Switzerland has already signed AIE agreements with the European Union and Australia which are awaiting parliamentary approval.
AIE will not be applicable for domestic banking clients until the results of a planned referendum on the issue are known.
Parliament also gave the green light to a multilateral agreement defining who transmits what information on what accounts. This text will allow a uniform application of the Convention, which would avoid each bilateral agreement having to be changed if the standard is changed.
Banks that violate their obligations will risk fines of up to CHF250,000 ($254,751). However, clients who have delivered false information to their bankers as a result of negligence will not be penalised, nor will bankers who have inadvertently breached their duties.
swissinfo.ch and agencies