SWITZERLAND - The End of Bank Secrecy?

Arno Froese

The era of mystery-cloaked numbered Swiss bank accounts has officially come to a close as Switzerland, the world’s biggest center for managing offshore wealth, began automatically sharing client data with tax authorities in dozens of other countries.

Bank secrecy still exists in some areas—Swiss authorities cannot automatically see what citizens have in their domestic bank accounts, for example—but gone are the days when well-paid European professionals could stash wealth across the border and beyond the prying eyes of their tax man.

The initial exchange was supposed to be with European Union countries plus nine other jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Norway and South Korea.

“Cyprus and Romania are currently excluded as they do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security,” the FTA said.

About 7,000 banks, trusts, insurers and other financial institutions registered with the FTA collect data on millions of accounts and send them on the Swiss tax agency. The FTA in turn sent information on around two million accounts to partner states. It put no value on the accounts in question.

The annual data swap will expand next year to about 80 partner states, provided they meet requirements on confidentiality and data security. The OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes reviews states’ implementation of the accord.

Under international pressure, Swiss banking secrecy has weakened for years, meaning rich people from around the world can no longer easily use the Alpine republic to hide wealth.

-www.reuters.com, 6 October 2018

Arno's commentary

To hold a bank account in the world’s richest and freest country was the dream of those with excessive financial means; especially the ones who changed their dollars into Swiss Francs. Throughout the 1970s, it took 4.35 Swiss Francs to buy a dollar; in 2010, it took $1.05 to buy a Swiss Franc. 

Will bank secrecy continue to exist? Based on this article, yes, but to a lesser degree. Yet this small alpine country does not fear. According to the CIA Factbook, GDP per capita stands at $61,400; life expectancy at 82.6 years. They export $360.8 billion and import only $286.7 billion—a sign of prosperity—and all that with one of the world’s highest paid labor forces. 

However, in the end, there is no difference between the poor and the rich, the successful and the unsuccessful; what counts is where one invests for eternity. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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