Swiss Banks Agree to Open Up and Avoid SecrecyWorld | March 13, 2009, Friday // 16:18| views
The Swiss government has agreed to allow its banking system to be opened up to scrutiny from abroad. Photo by flickr.com
Switzerland, the world's largest offshore financial centre for many years, has agreed to open up its bank system and to avoid secrecy. However, while it will now abide by international rules on bank data sharing, it said it would only respond to "concrete and justified" requests.
The Swiss government added that it would still protect banking customers from "unjustified watching from abroad".
Switzerland's announcement comes after it had risked being added to a global blacklist of uncooperative tax havens. This list currently comprises Andorra, Liechtenstein, and Monaco.
It is estimated that Switzerland's banks hold USD 2 T of global wealth held abroad. It reached its agreement overnight with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which sets rules on bank data sharing.
This is the first time it has agreed to sign up to the OECD rules, having previously stated that it would compromise its long-standing banking secrecy principles.
Andorra, Liechtenstein, Austria and Luxembourg have also just agreed to sign up to the OECD rules.
All had come under increasing pressure to reform their banking sectors.
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