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Swiss banks are not for turning – much

Baroness Thatcher Keystone

Swiss banks are doing a fair impression of a former British Prime Minister - the late Baroness Thatcher.

Thatcher famously turned down demands for greater integration with the EU with the response: “No, no, no”. The Swiss Bankers Association has given more or less the same response to an EU demand for the automatic exchange for tax information.

Automatic exchange of information with the EU is not an option for the banks in Switzerland ,” the SBA said in a recent statement, although it would accept tinkering with existing withholding tax agreements.

The statement comes in response to Luxembourg offering to exchange information with EU partners, Austria thinking about it, France ordering its banks to disclose all offshore activities and Britain signing an exchange agreement with France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

External pressure is building on Switzerland to follow paths that go beyond its domestic “clean money” strategy for the financial centre.

Aiding and abetting tax evaders is simply a game that will no longer pay, according to experts.

“This is the sword of Damocles for all who work in this field,” Geneva-based lawyer Douglas Hornung told “Those involved should divorce themselves from it.”

“This model belongs to the past,” renowned Swiss tax expert Marco Bernasconi told “Secrets are much harder to keep today.”

Matthew Allen, with input from Armando Mombelli

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR