Financial Regulatory Forum

Switzerland says goodbye to light touch regulation

By Rachel Wolcott

LONDON, May 3 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) -¬†These days even the Swiss are fed up with their bankers. The financial crisis has riled Swiss citizens to the point that the Alpine country’s reputation for light-touch financial regulation will soon be a thing of the past. In a direct democracy such as Switzerland, where every citizen can vote on laws and even propose them, the people have spoken. What they have said is: we want more rules and regulation for bankers and asset managers.

“In the past people were against regulations which seemed too restrictive, but this is changing. The public mood is still critical vis-√†-vis the banks and the culture of big bonuses for board of directors and management. Now we may see overregulation also because of the immediate political pressure facing a direct democracy,” Marc Raggenbass, head of the regulatory, compliance and legal practice at Deloitte in Zurich, told Thomson Reuters. (more…)

ANALYSIS-Global rich want trusts, Swiss banks stay wary

By Chris Vellacott and Lisa Jucca

ZURICH, May 26 (Reuters) – Rich bank customers are showing a growing interest in Anglo-Saxon trusts as a way to structure their wealth, but Swiss private banks are reluctant to up their offer as international pressure on tax disclosure builds.

Trusts, a legal concept born in 13th-century England to safeguard the assets of knights leaving for the Crusades, make up an estimated $5-trillion global market and are viewed by lawyers and accountants as a growth area for the heavily pressed Swiss offshore banking industry.

Switzerland, the world’s leading offshore centre, came under attack during the credit crisis by cash-strapped nations seeking to recoup tax revenues and its banks are seeking a new business model while traditional bank secrecy is eroding.

Merkel tries to calm tempers in Swiss tax dispute

Wanted in Switzerland

Wanted in Switzerland

By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Switzerland’s president have agreed that a dispute over stolen Swiss bank account data which Germany wants to buy should not harm ties between the neighbours, her spokesman said on Monday.

Merkel, who spoke to President Doris Leuthard on Saturday in an effort to calm tempers, also recieved assurances Switzerland would continue talks on a double taxation deal that would bring Switzerland into line with OECD standards.

Switzerland’s large private banking industry has been shaken in the last week by German politicians saying they would pay for data on clients of Swiss banks who may have been evading German taxes even if the information was obtained illegally.

European states keep Swiss bank secrecy under siege

By Jason Rhodes and Ben Berkowitz

BERNE/AMSTERDAM, Feb 3 (Reuters) – European states lined up behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel to expose tax cheats in a combined assault on the Swiss banking secrecy laws that help protect them.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sent shivers through the large Swiss private banking industry this week when he said Berlin was prepared to pay for stolen data belonging to potential tax cheats at a Swiss bank, raising the bar in the fight against tax evasion.

Now, the Dutch, Belgian and Austrian governments have also flagged interest in obtaining a copy of a compact disc with tax-sensitive data that Berlin may soon buy from an informant.

ANALYSIS-Pressure mounts on Swiss private banks

By Lisa Jucca and Rupert Pretterklieber

ZURICH, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Swiss private bankers say attacks on the country’s treasured bank secrecy law turned 2009 into an “annus horribilis.”

A fresh German offensive against tax cheats does not make 2010 look any better for the key guardians of Switzerland’s multi-trillion-dollar wealth management industry.

Despite a settlement in the United States aimed at ending a tax probe against Swiss bank giant UBS and Switzerland’s pledges to help foreign authorities hunt down tax dodgers, the pressure on already weakened Swiss bank client confidentiality refuses to subside.

Swiss central banker backs universal bank model – paper

Jan 16 (Reuters) – Switzerland’s two big banks — UBS and Credit Suisse — should not be forced to split their wealth management and commercial banking operations into separate entities, the new head of the country’s central bank said on Saturday.

Philipp Hildebrand, who took over as chairman of the Swiss National Bank at the start of the month, said the universal banking model provided useful synergies for Swiss banks.

Hildebrand has said repeatedly that major Swiss banks need tighter regulation to deal with the “too big to fail” problem.

Swiss call in Italian envoy to explain bank raids

ZURICH, Oct 28 (Reuters) – Switzerland has summoned the Italian ambassador to demand an explanation of raids by police and tax inspectors on dozens of Swiss banks in Italy, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

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