Offshore Banking: Swiss Could Make Concessions

Switzerland’s finance minister has raised the possibility of bargaining in certain cases over Swiss bank secrecy.

“Certain matters of fact must be up for
debate,” said Hans-Rudolf Merz, who also holds the country’s presidency.

“We will perhaps have to make concessions in some cases or
others.’

Merz also suggested that Switzerland may have to make these concessions in order to avoid the threat of inclusion on an OECD or G20 blacklist that would see Switzerland branded as an un-cooperative tax haven.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already hinted that Switzerland would be blacklisted if the current situation continued.

Being put on a blacklist could mean economic sanctions against Switzerland or directives ordering banks in OECD/G20 countries to either not bank with Switzerland or apply much stricter regulations on funds of Swiss origin.

There is speculation over whether such ‘concessions’ would mean fundamental changes in Swiss offshore banking and bank secrecy, or merely the release of more UBS clients currently under investigation.

Calls for changes to the secrecy law have met with almost universal dissaproval domestically, with many Swiss unwilling to change centuries of tradition or risk harming the ‘golden goose’ that funds a huge banking sector.

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