For those who follow offshore, specifically Swiss, banking, there have been some interesting news items recently.
According to a Reuters report, Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz repeated last week that Swiss banks will no longer accept untaxed money, known in German as ‘Schwarzgeld’ or black money. He said Switzerland also wanted to find a solution for the estimated $600-700 billion of undeclared assets still hidden in the country.
Separately, Switzerland’s justice minister questioned whether tax evasion should continue to be treated as a misdemeanour rather than a crime. Switzerland has already abandoned the distinction between tax evasion – failing to declare your income or wealth to the taxman – and tax fraud , which is deliberately misleading the revenue – for foreigners investing money in the country.
HSBC, meanwhile, has been implicated in handling of schwarzgeld for American clients, alongside Credit Suisse and UBS. So says an article in London’s Daily Telegraph describing subterfuge by an account holder who mailed large amounts of cash into the USA in an attempt to avoid detection. HSBC, like most major banks, has private banking operations in Switzerland and you may recall it was data stolen from HSBC that recently fell into the hands of French tax authorities.
The French, meanwhile, released a new blacklist of tax havens and will penalise French companies and individuals doing business with those countries. The blacklisted countries are Anguilla, Belize, Brunei, Costa Rica, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, the Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Liberia, Montserrat, Nauru, Niue, Panama, Philippines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines.
The Financial Times, as usual, has a more upbeat and realistic view, with a piece pointing out how important safe havens like Switzerland are when it comes to offering stability in times of crisis: Greek crisis proves Switzerland is still a safe haven. As investors were being freaked by the unfolding crisis in the Euro zone, money was pouring into Swiss banks. This would suggest that tax was not the main motive for opening accounts in Switzerland, but rather the stability offered by a strong and trusted currency, the Swiss Franc. This of course is what we’ve been saying for years!
If you have unreported bank accounts in Switzerland – or anywhere else for that matter – the time to do something about it is now. We are happy to assist our members with referrals to reputable, discreet experts who can help. We have personally seen them succeed in solving problems like this without too much pain! Contact the Q Wealth Front Desk initially and ask to be put in touch with our recommended experts who handle this service. (Please note this service is reserved for our paid-up members. Please read our Practical Offshore Banking Guide first. If you are not yet a member you can sign up here)
This is an edited version of an e-mail sent out to our Q Bytes mailing list. Q Bytes is a free weekly e-mail service that keeps you up to scratch on wealth preservation, asset protection and offshore banking, as well as strategies for prospering during times of crisis. To sign up free to Q Bytes, go here.