Swiss banking secrecy rule dealt fresh Swiss banking secrecy rule dealt fresh

Two events this month may have finally brought the *curtain down on secrecy rules* that were the key to Geneva and Zurich’s private banking heyday, when foreign clients could come armed with suitcases of cash and their bankers would look the other way. Swiss tax authorities announced they’d *shared details on 2 million accounts* with other countries for the first time as part of rules on information exchanges introduced last year. Then last week Switzerland’s Supreme Court said a former Julius Baer Group Ltd. executive didn’t break secrecy rules, ruling Swiss law didn’t apply at the Cayman Islands unit where he worked. *Bank secrecy used* to be sacrosanct even in Switzerland, but now with automatic exchange of information agreements kicking in and then this decision, we see that’s being steadily eroded, said Kern Alexander, chair of finance and law at the University of Zurich. Credit Suisse Group AG *paid a $2.6 billion fine* and more than 80 other Swiss banks coughed up over $1.3 billion in penalties. The 272-year old Wegelin & Co. was forced to close after striking its deal with the US. Vontobel Holding AG, a Swiss bank founded 94 years ago, has taken a different approach. It’s registered an entity with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that *focuses on wealthy clients liable for US taxes* Bloomberg reported. On Friday, it took over $1.2 billion in U.S. client assets from a Swiss rival. But last week the Supreme Court put *clear geographic limits on Article 47* when it upheld the acquittal of Rudolf Elmer, a Swiss accountant who worked at a Baer unit in the Cayman Islands. The court said that secrecy rules stop at the border and don’t apply to Swiss lenders’ far-flung entities around the world.

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