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Banking Privacy in Switzerland

Banking Privacy in Switzerland

Updated on Monday 21st September 2015

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Banking-Privacy-in-SwitzerlandThe legal extent of banking privacy in Switzerland

Banking secrecy falls under the regulations of the Banking Act in Switzerland. The main principles banking privacy in relies on in Switzerland are the civil right of individuals to personal privacy, the contractual relation between a bank and its client, and other statutory provisions in the Banking Law regarding banking privacy. However, other national laws or international treaties Switzerland has concluded may override banking privacy. Even if not mentioned in the law, a Swiss bank’s client may give up the right to banking privacy.

The scope of banking secrecy in Switzerland

Article 47 in the Banking Law refers to bankers’ obligations to maintain banking secrecy. According to the law, banks may not release any information on holders of Swiss bank account to any private persons or governmental authorities, if the information is subject to the banking privacy provisions, unless a legal order is given. Banking secrecy in Switzerland covers all aspects in the banking sector:

  • - the relation between the client and the bank,
  • - information released by the client on his financial status,
  • - the relation between the client and other financial institutions.

The same banking privacy rules apply to ordinary bank account, but to numbered accounts that offer additional protection to their owners. Subsidiaries and branches of foreign banks in Switzerland are also subject to the banking privacy provisions. However, in case of a branch that depends on the parent company, the parent company is entitled to conduct due diligence procedures on its branch in Switzerland.

Changes brought to Swiss banking secrecy provisions based on new tax agreements

Based on the latest developments and additional agreements on exchange of tax information that Switzerland concluded, the banking privacy provisions suffered few changes. The new agreements signed with countries like the United States and EU member states will force banks to make available certain information on foreign citizens with bank accounts in Switzerland. These new treaties will, however, remove Switzerland from many countries’ blacklists and increase the confidence in the Swiss banking system. The new changes are also expected to facilitate the entrance of foreign investors on the Swiss market.

For details about the recent agreements on exchange of tax information and their provisions you can contact our lawyers in Switzerland.




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