Swiss see bank secrecy laws as part of their national identity, survey claims

City A.M. Reporter
A MAJORITY of Swiss people remain in favour of retaining the country’s long-cherished tradition of bank secrecy despite growing international pressure for greater transparency, a poll revealed yesterday.

US action against UBS has stirred domestic resentment

“The Swiss are not ready to give up their banking secrecy,” Switzerland’s Matin Dimanche newspaper said as it published a survey showing 62 per cent opposed to any change.

In the 15-34 age group, those opposed rose to 68 per cent, the newspaper said of the poll of 602 people.

In the fallout from the global financial crisis, critics have called for major reforms, including an end to bank secrecy which they say contributed to the problem.

Switzerland, whose banks strictly enforced client secrecy, has found itself in the firing line and been forced to open up in the past year due to US-led pressure for change.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development put Switzerland on a “grey list” of tax havens in 2009 for not being cooperative enough and to get off it, Bern later signed a series of accords on sharing tax information.

It has also been embroiled in a series of disputes with the US, Germany, France and others over allegations that their nationals have put money into Swiss bank accounts to avoid tax.