Zonder bankgeheim is de lol er wel af voor Zwitserse bankiers

FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2009 file photo the headquarters of the Swiss central bank is pictured in Bern, Switzerland. The bank has imposed negative interest rates on commercial bank deposits, with the aim of preventing the Swiss franc from gaining more strength against other currencies. In a statement Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, the central bank said it was introducing a rate of minus 0.25 percent on sight deposit account balances of more than 10 million Swiss francs ($12.5 million). (AP Photo/Keystone, Peter Klaunzer, File) Foto AP

Nu ook Zwitserland niet meer te boek wil staan als veilige haven voor zwartspaarders, wacht de bankiers in Genève een ondankbare taak: zorg dat je klanten hun vermogen aangeven bij de belastingdienst in hun eigen land, of schop ze de deur uit als klant. “Ik schaam me nu voor mijn werk.”

Adrien sees himself as a survivor, even referring to the miracle of his survival. Like dozens of others, this Geneva banker used to manage the money of clients from neighboring countries, including France, at one of the Swiss city’s big local banks. That was before his transformation into a merciless “cleaner” of undeclared portfolios.

Everything started around three years ago. One after the other, the banks realized they’d have to push their clients into declaring their accounts with the tax authorities in their home country. If they didn’t, these Swiss banks could face trouble with the foreign authorities.

Thus Adrien found himself at the heart of the transformation of this global financial center. Switzerland stopped making the distinction between tax evasion and tax fraud — and the UBS scandal in the United States is in the process of dismantling the fabled Swiss banking secrecy practices.

“Before the regulatory framework had even changed to take this new reality into account, the banks spontaneously changed their practices and took measures to protect themselves.”

Measures? They gave orders to the portfolio managers of private clients to push the clients either to declare their accounts with their home authorities — or leave the bank.

Read the full article: The Shame And Carnage Of Geneva’s Front-Line Bankers
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    • Mathilde Farine