Swiss back privacy laws

THE Swiss government yesterday threw its weight behind the privacy laws which protect the clients of Swiss banks – institutions which are reputed for their secrecy.

It rejected the idea of exchanging information – particularly involving tax – automatically, but said it was prepared to consider the introduction of withholding tax on offshore funds, which are maintained by Swiss banks, in exchange for an easier cross-border business market.

The move, which is aimed at fostering a more honest environment for clients from overseas who use bank accounts in Switzerland, is key to a new age of banking in Switzerland.

The country had been rocked by pressure on its secrecy laws following a crackdown worldwide on tax havens.

Swiss bank UBS was forced to reveal the details of clients who bank with it earlier this year.