Expats Business Policy has become a domestic issue - Swiss banks slammed
17. August 2014
Erschienen in: div. englischsprachigen Medien

Swiss Banks Slammed For Expat Business Policy

The Swiss Abroad community is calling on the government to ensure their right to a savings account. They also want parliament to maintain the mandatory registration of expats in case of political crises and other emergencies.

The Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), meeting in Aarau on Friday, passed two separate resolutions with overwhelming majorities.

Roland Rino Büchel, a vice president of the assembly, said the time was right to push ahead with demands for the majority state-owned Post Finance to provide Swiss expatriates with an account to keep their savings, pensions or other declared funds as well as to make it possible for them to take out mortgages for their properties in Switzerland.

“It has finally become an issue of domestic interest in Switzerland after more than five years,” he said.

During an extended session, the assembly heard numerous complaints by delegates about harsh and discriminatory treatment by Swiss banks.

Several speakers said the Swiss Abroad were “collateral damage” of the mistakes made by many banks in the past.

“It’s unfair to be made the scapegoat,” said Erich Bloch, delegate from Israel.

Political pressure

Other delegates, including Marcel Grossenbacher from Nigeria, cautioned against hasty decisions and called for a realistic approach without resorting to blunt “bank bashing”.

Büchel, who is also a parliamentarian, hopes the resolution will boost his chances to increase pressure on a political level. He says an estimated 100,000 expats could benefit from a guarantee for an account with Post Finance.

A leading consumer protection group will reportedly investigate ways to force Swiss banks to give all Swiss citizens – and notably the 732,000 registered expatriates – access to an account and provide them with certain financial services.

 

Following moves by the United States to crack down on tax fraud, many Swiss banks have asked their customers, notably expatriates, to close their accounts amid concerns of reprisals.

The Swiss Bankers Association says offshore asset management has become too costly and risky in many countries.

“The Swiss Abroad have to pay taxes in their countries of residence and are subject to the local law. The banks have to know the rules and regulations of the respective states. This is costly and carries certain risks,” says association spokesman Thomas Sutter.

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