Swiss Bankers at Loggerheads With Bankers Association About Politics

Yves Mirabaud

Swiss Private Banker Yves Mirabaud

The Swiss private banks are at loggerheads with the bankers association – after taking a neutral position on a political move to amend the constitution to include banking secrecy, a highly contentious bid by some exponents of the right-wing People's Party.

Thomas Matter, a combative member of parliament of the People's Party received a fresh impetus in his bid to inscribe the country's famed banking secrecy laws into the constitution: the usual discrete Association of Swiss Private Banks today declared itself neutral regarding this issue.

«Our industry can adapt to either of these scenarios,» the association's Chairman Yves Mirabaud said. «But in both cases a coherent tax system is essential.»

Benefits the Dishonest?

This will probably have upset the Swiss Bankers Association, which decidedly rejects the move by Matter. Its main concern is that putting banking secrecy into the constitution would benefit people who don't pay their taxes at the cost of the honest taxpayer.

Mirabaud, who not long ago told that he personally and his association held no sympathies for the Matter-move, now says that either way, the payment of taxes in Switzerland will continue to be guaranteed via a withholding tax or a move towards more exchange of bank data.

Not a Foregone Conclusion

Should Matter's initiative be supported by the population when it comes to the vote, the current approach with a withholding tax will need to be developed «rationally», said the association today. In case of a rejection however, the levying of a withholding tax could be abandoned, it added.

«Assuming that all hidden and untaxed income will in the future either be disclosed to the tax authorities or subject to a withholding tax, there is strong justification for offering the concerned taxpayers a simple and attractive way to become tax compliant, as neighboring countries have done,» Mirabaud said.

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