Post Finance, the banking arm of the Swiss post office, has informed clients living abroad that their credit cards will be cancelled at the end of October. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has criticised the decision that has been motivated by tightening money laundering and tax evasion regulations.
Overseas clients of Post Finance, regardless of whether they are Swiss living abroad or foreigners, have been receiving letters informing them that their existing credit card accounts will soon be closed. The move follows a decision in 2013 not to open up any new accounts of the same nature.
“So now it is even more difficult to maintain a normal Swiss banking relationship from abroad”, OSA spokeswoman Anne-Catherine Clément told the Tages Anzeiger newspaper that broke the story on Saturday.
Last August, the Council of the Swiss Abroad - the OSA’s congress - passed two resolutions calling on the Swiss government to do more to ensure that its citizens can maintain financial accounts in their country of birth if they live abroad.
There are around 746,000 Swiss expats living abroad who are frequently referred to collectively as the ‘fifth Switzerland’, in addition to residents of Switzerland who speak the four main Swiss languages.
Swiss expats, along with foreigners resident outside of Switzerland, have found it increasingly difficult to open or maintain bank accounts in Switzerland. This follows a United States-led crackdown on tax evasion and the consequent weakening of Swiss banking secrecy.
Whilst Post Finance has been an independent organisation on paper since 2013, for the time being the majority of its shares are held by the state-owned post office.