Nick Shaxson ■ Switzerland: still the home of secret banking

"Are we Swiss all criminals?" The poster asks, in light of tax evasion and money laundering probes.  Only a minority

“Are we Swiss all criminals?” The poster asks, in light of tax evasion and money laundering probes. Only a minority

There’s been a lot of press about Swiss banking secrecy being finished, because of certain improvements that have been made. We periodically issue reminders that this ain’t so, for many reasons. Just for instance:

  • Swiss Banking Secrecy laws, in the spirit of the famous 1934 Swiss Banking Secrecy Law, remain firmly intact. If they really had turned over a new leaf, why don’t they just get rid of it.
  • Swiss courts continue their decades-old vindictive pursuit of their best-known whistleblower, Rudolf Elmer. Elmer’s avalanche of evidence demonstrates clearly that the banking complex has managed to corrupt Swiss courts in their efforts to nail him.
  • As we’ve often noted, transparency is being provided selectively, mostly to powerful countries. The more vulnerable and weak the country, the less likely Switzerland is to pony up the information they need.
  • The scandals, which just keep popping up. For example, try last week’s Why Dirty Money Still Plagues Switzerland, by the (not always terribly critical, but always interesting,) Swissinfo. Or look at the wares that mucky secrecy providers are still hawking this fine morning; or the goings-on at the thoroughly murky Freeport.
  • Watch out for our next Financial Secrecy Index, coming soon – with ample new evidence about tax haven Switzerland.

Just sayin’.

Swiss secrecy certainly isn’t what it used to be, and Switzerland has certainly taken great strides in certain areas — along with many other tax havens facing the same international pressures for reform.

But make no mistake: Swiss secrecy ain’t dead.

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Comments • 2

  • Fredi Schlaepfer
    November 2, 2015 - 7:25 pm

    Stop bashing the Swiss banking secret. This is a worldwide problem of the capitalistic finance system. Bashing Switzerland will not help. All financial centres of this world are called up to act. Mainly the USA with their hypocritical attitude, Great Britain with their tax shelters on the Channel Island and the Karibik. And don’t forget Singapur, Hongkong, the Emirates and New Caledonia. It is not one country at its fault, it is the self-declared elite of all the countries of this world. Judging is not the solution. Explain to the world what is really going on. Yet this is the real crux. Do we find the right words and do the people understand (want to understand)? Don’t stop trying.

    • Nick Shaxson
      November 3, 2015 - 10:36 am

      we will continue to ‘bash’ Swiss banking secrecy, but your other points are mostly correct: the index identifies many other players, and it does in a sense help to stop thinking in terms of geography but instead see this as a great political struggle between élites using a seamlessly connected offshore system, and poorer wider populations.

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