Spectre of tax evasion haunts Swiss banks

Swiss private banks have spent much of the past decade trying to rid themselves of lucrative accounts used to avoid taxes. But news of an international tax probe at Credit Suisse last month showed more work is needed to mend Switzerland’s image as a tax haven. Banks have written to tens of thousands of clients ordering them to “regularise” their affairs in recent years, either by proving they are tax compliant or taking their money elsewhere. Customers have withdrawn billions of francs as a result – often some of the banks’ highest-margin business. And yet the banks are still not in the clear. In 2017, they expected challenges in exotic destinations. Switzerland has signed up to an ever-expanding list of countries whose tax authorities would automatically get information on Swiss banks’ clients. Countries such as Indonesia have worked through tax amnesties incentivising individuals to declare untaxed income. But the problem has resurfaced on their ...

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