Swiss back banking secrecy

Urs Roth head of the Swiss Bankers Association Keystone Archive

More than 80 per cent of the Swiss back the country's tight banking secrecy laws, but many also believe more could be done to combat money laundering, according to a new survey by the Swiss Bankers Association.

This content was published on June 18, 2001 minutes

Seventy-two per cent said that the country should not yield to international pressure to abolish financial privacy, according to the survey, released on Monday.

"Protecting an individual's financial privacy is a very worthy cause. The Swiss acknowledge its importance and continue to give it their overwhelming support," said Urs Roth, the association's chief executive.

As part of its drive to combat tax evasion, the European Union wants Switzerland to report interest and dividend income earned by EU citizens but the Swiss authorities have refused on the grounds that it would violate banking secrecy.

Critics of banking secrecy law say that they make Switzerland appear a safe haven for the ill-gotten gains of gangsters and crooked politicians.

Almost two thirds of the 1,007 Swiss citizens surveyed said they thought the banks could more to fight money laundering and should reject deposits from foreign dictators, such as former Nigerian strongman, Sani Abacha, and the late Zairean leader, Mobutu Sese Seko, both of whom had Swiss accounts.

Meanwhile, an even higher percentage, 77 per cent, felt Switzerland was already doing as much, if not more, to combat the problem as banks in other countries.

swissinfo with agencies

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