arabtoday
Last Updated : GMT 21:10:09
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Home » Banks

Swiss banks sign up to reveal hidden accounts

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Swiss banks sign up to reveal hidden accounts

Geneva - AFP

Swiss banks are scrambling ahead of a December 31 deadline to decide whether to join a US programme aimed at zooming in on lenders that helped Americans dodge taxes. Around 40 of Switzerland's some 300 banks have already said publicly they will take part in a US programme set up to allow Swiss financial institutions to avoid US prosecution in exchange for coming clean and possibly paying steep fines. "What are the others going to do? That is the very big question," Swiss business lawyer Douglas Hornung told AFP. Washington alleges that Swiss banks have helped US citizens hide billions of dollars in assets from tax authorities, in a row that has soured relations between the two in recent years. The two countries reached a deal in August aimed at ending the dispute, piercing a significant hole in the tradition of secrecy upon which the Swiss banking industry was built. The banks have until the end of the year to decide whether to fess up to potential wrong-doing and hand over their files to US authorities, and thereby shield themselves from legal action, or take their chances outside the programme. Picking the wrong option could saddle a bank with crippling fines, fees or a US indictment. Banks that opened undeclared accounts for US clients -- especially the ones that actively wooed such clients -- definitely should join the programme, experts say. Washington in 2009 fined Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, $780 million for complicity in tax evasion. "If one of the 10 to 15 banks the US Department of Justice already has in its files does not show up..., you can be sure there will be a BOOM in January," Hornung said. Switzerland's one-time oldest bank Wegelin & Co., founded in 1741, discovered earlier this year the price of not coming clean to US authorities when given the chance: it was pushed out of business after being slapped with a $74-million fine for helping wealthy clients avoid at least $20 million in taxes. Fourteen banks, including Switzerland's second-biggest bank, Credit Suisse, are already officially under US investigation and will have no chance to skirt legal action. The other banks can however opt in to the programme by determining which of the three remaining categories they belong in. Most so far are signing up for category two and thereby acknowledging they may well have had US clients with undeclared accounts. "More banks have said they will go for category two than would be expected," said Walter Boss, a tax lawyer with Poledna Boss Kurer AG in Zurich. Category three, reserved for banks that aim to prove their innocence, "won't be crowded, it looks like," he said. Especially surprising perhaps is that a large majority of the publicly backed cantonal banks, which are regionally based and have long insisted they never went after US clients, have opted for category two. All the banks rushing to the confession booth have not necessarily committed any misdeeds though, experts say. A number of banks insist they have only had a few US clients and have never done anything to encourage tax evasion, but have chosen to initially join category two for fear that a single tax-dodging American, even unbeknownst to them, could land them in legal qualms. "I think the fears in Switzerland are too big when it comes to the United States," said Peter Viktor Kunz, a business law professor at Bern University. "I really hope that common sense prevails in the end," he said. Switzerland's third-largest bank, Reiffeisen, and private bank Vontobel have for instance said they will opt for category three or four, reserved for local banks with no US clients at all, which should show some of the smaller banks with few US clients that the self-flagellating is unnecessary, Kunz said. Banks in category two will face penalties equivalent to between 20 and 50 percent of the value of undeclared accounts, depending on when they were opened, not to mention towering legal and translation fees. "Many of the smaller banks simply will not be able to afford this," Hornung said, cautioning that a number of banks might go belly-up. He urged banks that had done nothing wrong to opt out of the programme altogether, insisting that Washington was not interested in hunting down the minnows in the pond. Regardless of how many banks decide to sign up by the December 31 deadline, observers warned that the programme was unlikely to provide much immediate relief to a Swiss banking sector desperate to shake off the uncertainty that has been dogging it throughout the dispute with Washington. Confusion over how the US programme will be implemented means "the uncertainty is still there for many," Kunz said, adding: "So no happy new year for them."

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today swiss banks sign up to reveal hidden accounts Arab Today, arab today swiss banks sign up to reveal hidden accounts

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Adidas Originals ‘reinterpreted’

GMT 14:52 2016 Thursday ,01 December

Adidas Originals ‘reinterpreted’
Arab Today, arab today At Milaidhoo Island, Maldives

GMT 08:42 2016 Wednesday ,07 December

At Milaidhoo Island, Maldives
Arab Today, arab today Paris's matchbox apartments

GMT 10:37 2016 Saturday ,24 September

Paris's matchbox apartments
Arab Today, arab today At least 50,000 Daesh fighters killed

GMT 07:57 2016 Friday ,09 December

At least 50,000 Daesh fighters killed
Arab Today, arab today 'Rookie' Trump must fall into line

GMT 08:02 2016 Tuesday ,06 December

'Rookie' Trump must fall into line
View News in Arabic - Business: مصارف
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today The summer school raising aspirations

GMT 12:49 2016 Tuesday ,06 December

The summer school raising aspirations
Arab Today, arab today Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone immortalized

GMT 12:31 2016 Thursday ,08 December

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone immortalized
Arab Today, arab today Australia's Rinehart, China group

GMT 10:02 2016 Friday ,09 December

Australia's Rinehart, China group
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today Hyundai allows Saudi journalists

GMT 15:14 2016 Thursday ,01 December

Hyundai allows Saudi journalists
Arab Today, arab today Latest Infiniti QX to compete

GMT 13:16 2016 Saturday ,26 November

Latest Infiniti QX to compete
Arab Today, arab today France bets on Bollywood

GMT 10:48 2016 Tuesday ,06 December

France bets on Bollywood
Arab Today, arab today Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

GMT 13:47 2016 Thursday ,08 December

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

GMT 11:20 2016 Monday ,05 December

By glorifying Soviet WWII 'myth'

GMT 10:52 2016 Tuesday ,06 December

Vanessa Redgrave makes directing

GMT 04:15 2016 Thursday ,30 June

World's largest uncut diamond fails

GMT 11:39 2016 Tuesday ,06 December

Indonesia expands protection

GMT 15:59 2015 Wednesday ,27 May

Seoul elevates gardening to high art

GMT 12:39 2016 Saturday ,26 November

Skin patch could help kids

GMT 13:17 2016 Friday ,25 November

Ajman Tourism launches time capsule

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 09:53 2016 Sunday ,15 May

OMEGA official timekeepers
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube

Powered and Developed by FilmMatters

Copyright © 2016 Arabtoday

Developed by FilmMatters

© 2016 Arabtoday

arabtoday arabtoday arabtoday
arabtoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabtoday, Arabtoday, Arabtoday