The Swiss Government is assembling a team of lawyers diplomats and experts to help defend its banking industry as pressure to prize open its bank secrecy grows.
The taskforce is to be led by Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz, Justice Minister Widmer-Schlumpf and Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey , according to the Finance minister himself.
“The mandate of the committee is to protect the interests of our
country in the case of UBS and in the context of bank secrecy and
Switzerland as a financial center,” Merz said.
The committee will seek to respond to claims that Swiss bank secrecy if folding under US pressure, after it gave UBS the greenlight to disclose 250 US clients last week.
The banking industry amounts to around 15% of Swiss GNP and bankers warn that the loss of banking secrecy could cut the financial sector in half.
Despite a settlement already agreed by UBS with the American government the US is still looking for further details of american offshore bank accounts holders and the government needs backup to put a positive spin on its privacy laws.
Among Swiss bankers themselves nothing is certain.
“Politicians tend to talk a lot. Banking secrecy is of course not safe: it is threatened.” said the chairman of the Swiss Private Banker’s association.