Switzerland eases its banking secrecy rules

Swiss lawmakers on Friday gave their final approval to ease banking secrecy rules and facilitate foreign authorities in efforts to identify those who may have hidden undeclared funds in the Alpine state.

The upper chamber of parliament adopted the new double taxation accords negotiated with certain countries, including Greece, regarding information exchange, following the green light given by the lower house in April. Greeks are estimated to have deposited between 30 and 40 billion euros in Swiss bank accounts.

Apart from Greece, new treaties have been negotiated with countries including the Netherlands, Turkey, Japan, Poland, India, Germany, Kazakhstan, Canada and Uruguay, after Switzerland bowed to international pressure in 2009 to ease its banking secrecy rules.

Under the new rules, Switzerland will no longer require the name and address of an individual as well as a bank, before providing administrative aid on tax matters to foreign authorities. Rather, an IBAN number or a social security number will suffice to identify the individual.

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