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Swiss authorities expose scale of banking secrecy violations

Swiss prosecutors have revealed at least 60 cases in which banking secrecy has been breached at Switzerland's two largest banks since 1996. They say in each instance confidential information about clients' accounts was sold.

This content was published on January 9, 2000 - 15:29

The Swiss authorities have revealed at least 60 cases in which banking secrecy has been breached at Switzerland's two largest banks since 1996. They say in each instance confidential information about clients' accounts was sold.

The allegations make a mockery of claims by Switzerland's biggest banks - UBS and Credit Suisse - that breaches of secrecy are rare and unrelated.

The justice ministry says the leaks are not confined to Switzerland. It knows of 13 people in various countries who have gained access to information relating to accounts held by private clients of the two banks.

The authorities are powerless to take action against these people, because their activities do not fall under crimes covered by international law.

The federal prosecutor's office says a further 11 people resident in Switzerland - four private detectives and seven bank employees - have also breached banking secrecy, and sold confidential information.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office, Dominique Reymond, said the scam was masterminded by a Swiss citizen, who is alleged to have bought the information from contacts within the banks.

Reymond said the bank employees involved received between SFr100 to SFr2,500 for the information they passed on. The main suspect is suspected of re-selling the data for sums of between SFr500 and SFr5,000.

The case came to light after a report in the Sonntagszeitung newspaper sparked an investigation by the federal prosecutor last October.

From staff and wire reports





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