Israel seeks Swiss help in identifying undeclared accounts

The Geneva-based UBP (Union Bancaire Privee) says it is cooperating with Swiss authorities. Keystone

Swiss authorities are considering a request from the Israeli finance ministry for assistance in identifying Israelis with undeclared assets at two Swiss private banks.

This content was published on June 26, 2019 - 21:52

The Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) said on Wednesday it is cooperating with the Swiss Federal Tax Administration, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The other bank targeted, Julius Baer, did not comment.

The Swiss tax office is currently seeking contact information for account holders and giving the banks 20 days to provide the data. It will then decide whether it can provide assistance to Israel.

According to documents published in the Swiss Federal Register on Tuesday, the Israeli finance ministry is attempting to identify citizens who held accounts at UBP between 2014 and 2017 and who did not show they had fully met their tax obligations. 

Reuters reported that a similar document showing Israeli interest in accounts at Julius Baer was made public earlier this month.

Switzerland has signed agreements with a number of countries, including Israel, for the automatic exchange of banking information following international pressure to crack down on offshore assets. The agreements mean that Swiss banks must share details on foreign clients with the tax office, which then passes the data on to these partner states. 

In the case of Israel, the automatic exchange of information entered into force on January 1, 2019. The current investigation, dealing with financial information from before this date, was raised as a specific request for administrative assistance.

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