Swiss banks are coming under international pressure:
Switzerland’s tax disputes with the United States and some European nations are “an economic war” putting 20,000 jobs at risk, the CEO of Swiss banking giant UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) has been quoted as saying.
It seems like the whole wide world is against poor little Schwizerland:
- USA: After a successful case where UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) had to pay a fine of 780 mio USD and hand over 4450 clients files, there are now pending investigations against at least 11 Swiss banks.Switzerland’s oldest bank, Wegelin & Co, announced it was selling most of its business after it was indicted in the U.S. for conspiring to help American clients hide more than $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service.
- Germany: Foresees some $13 billion next year after Switzerland agreed to a new tough bilateral tax evasion treaty.
- Britain: Switzerland has agreed to increase the charge it levies on British taxpayers’ Swiss bank accounts.
It must be difficult for a Swiss banker to understand that other countries are not particularly pleased with the aiding and abetting of tax fraud. Especially since they have been so unwilling to release the money deposited by some of their clients that happened to get themselves killed in concentration camps during WW2. How short a memory do they think people have?
Swiss banks do help themselves to any kind of money. The immediate firing of 20.000 Swiss bank employees thus deprived of their comfortable livelihood will most certainly move even the most cold-hearted US or EU finance minister to tears.
How pathetic can you get – especially as Sergio Ermotti was appointed CEO of Switzerland’s largest bank in November in the wake of a trading scandal.
Of course various government will want to limit the possibilities for tax-evasion – apart from that we are talking amounts of currency that can be used against the stability of both the USD and Euro.
The question is rather what sort of leverage has the Swiss lost?
- As 60% of the public Russian revenue originates from export taxes on oil the need for underhanded deals must have gone down – not that Russians have become more above board, but it is now a Russian problem.
- The “Arabian spring” must have cut severely into the customer base of the Swiss banks.
- The financial crisis has opened the books of many a bank – both in Europe and the USA – and the host of businesses that have gone bankrupt must have revealed debtor fraud where non-Swiss banks will have to bear the loss.
It seems like the need for Swiss banking practises is decreasing, not because the world has gone honest; but there simply isn’t the profit margin around to pay bribes.
The Swiss bankers lament echoes the whining of other bankers in connection with Tobin-tax proposals and other measures to restrict speculation. When the threat of loosing banking jobs in their own countries doesn’t impress politicians, why should they pity the Swiss?