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Swiss banks urge clients to declare assets

Swiss banks say they have no intention of being accused of actively helping clients evade their taxes and are encouraging cheats to step forward.

Credit Suisse spokesman Marc Dosch said on Friday that people using the bank to hide assets should legalise their property at once.

“If a new or former client says he has undeclared money, he will be told to contact a tax advisor independently,” Dosch said, adding that the bank’s business model is not based on tax issues.

A report in the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, suggests that for years Credit Suisse workers systematically offered clients help in ways to hide assets. Dosch said the report was based on speculation.

“We fundamentally take no position on this issue,” he said.

The Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) is also calling for new customers to come in clean and will refuse any business relationship that leaves the slightest doubt over whether assets have been declared, a bank spokesman said.

Bank Julius Bär is also taking a stance: “We are telling customers to find a solution with their tax advisor,” finance director Dieter Enkelmann said, while admitting that clients are responsible for their own tax situations.

Dosch said banks have neither the opportunity nor obligation to hound clients over tax matters. ZKB has said it has no interest in being “an extended arm of the tax authorities”. and agencies

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