Banking secrecy in Switzerland took another hit Tuesday as the country signed an agreement to share bank data for taxing purposes.
Switzerland, which is famous as a country that does not share banking information, signed an accord already signed by nearly 60 other countries called the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said.
The document dates back to 1988, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"Switzerland has been committed to complying with international standards in tax matters since March 2009. The signing of the convention confirms Switzerland's commitment to the global fight against tax fraud," said Stefan Fluckiger, the Swiss ambassador to the OECD, in the statement.
Switzerland already has individual agreements to share banking data with several individual countries, the Journal pointed out.
The long-held practice of strict banking secrecy in Switzerland began to break down in 2009, when whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld helped prosecutors charge the largest Swiss bank, UBS, with helping U.S. tax evaders.
The bank was assessed a fine of $780 million, $104 million of which was awarded to Birkenfeld, even though the bank never pleaded guilty to any wrongdoing and Birkenfeld was sentenced to jail time for his role in helping the bank hide U.S. assets from the Internal Revenue Service.
In another fateful step, the oldest Swiss bank, Wegelin & Co., founded in 1741, closed in January 2013 after admitting it had helped wealthy clientele evade U.S. tax authorities.
"Wegelin was aware that this conduct was wrong ... From about 2002 through to about 2010, Wegelin agreed with certain US taxpayers to evade the U.S. tax obligations of these U.S. taxpayer clients, who filed false tax returns with the IRS," Otto Bruderer, a managing partner of the bank, said in court testimony in New York, The Guardian reported at the time.