Bank secrecy

Bank secrecy (or bank privacy) is a legal principle in some jurisdictions under which banks are not allowed to provide to authorities personal and account information about their customers unless certain conditions apply (for example, a criminal complaint has been filed). In some cases, additional privacy is provided to beneficial owners through the use of numbered bank accounts or otherwise. Bank secrecy is prevalent in certain countries such as Switzerland, Lebanon, Singapore and Luxembourg, as well as offshore banks and other tax havens under voluntary or statutory privacy provisions.

Created by the Swiss Banking Act of 1934, which led to the famous Swiss bank numbered account, the principle of bank secrecy is always considered one of the main aspects of private banking. It has also been accused by NGOs and governments of being one of the main instruments of underground economy and organized crime, in particular following the class action suit against the Vatican Bank in the 1990s, the Clearstream scandal and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Former bank employees from banks in Switzerland (UBS, Julius Baer) and Liechtenstein (LGT Group) have testified that their former institutions helped clients evade billions of dollars in taxes by routing money through offshore havens in the Caribbean and Switzerland. One of these, Rudolf M. Elmer, wrote, "It is a global problem...Offshore tax evasion is the biggest theft among societies and neighbor states in this world." The Swiss Parliament ratified on June 17, 2010 an agreement between the Swiss and the United States governments allowing UBS to transmit to the US authorities information concerning 4,450 American clients of UBS suspected of tax evasion.

Latest News for: Bank secrecy laws


IMF: Lebanon in 'very dangerous situation' with reforms stalled

Reuters 23 Mar 2023
Authorities have passed some reform measures, such as a 2022 budget, an audit of the central bank's foreign asset position and a revised banking secrecy law. But the IMF's statement on Thursday said the revised banking secrecy law should be amended again "to address outstanding critical weaknesses"....

IMF warns Lebanon at 'very dangerous moment'

Gulf News 23 Mar 2023
The IMF had conditioned the funds on a series of measures, notably unifying the country's plethora of exchange rates, a reformed bank secrecy law as well as restructuring the banking sector and the implementation of formal capital controls ... as well as a revised bank secrecy law....

IMF: Lebanon in ‘very dangerous situation’ with reforms stalled

Gulf News 23 Mar 2023
Authorities have passed some reform measures, such as a 2022 budget, an audit of the central bank’s foreign asset position and a revised banking secrecy law, though the IMF objected to an earlier version of that legislation ... Lebanon still has no capital control law, has not passed ......

IMF warns without reforms, Lebanon could see hyperinflation

The Lawton Constitution 23 Mar 2023
Amendments to the country’s banking secrecy law approved in October, intended to facilitate accountability in the financial sector, and a draft capital controls law do not meet the IMF’s requirements, Rigo said....
photo: Creative Commons
Architectural photo of white buildings

Peso weakens, PSEi gains ahead of policy decisions

The Manila Times 22 Mar 2023
"The progress on some reform measures, such as the House of Representatives passing on second reading the amendments to the Bank Secrecy Law, also contributed to the positive market sentiment but this was offset by Moody's Analytics' reduction of its Philippine GDP (gross ......

Signature Bank Reportedly Under Criminal Probe Before Shutdown

Bitcoinist 15 Mar 2023
Signature Bank is facing scrutiny from the U.S ... Signature Bank Involved In Criminal Activities? ... The charges can vary depending on the severity and scope of the money laundering activities, but can include violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, the USA Patriot Act, and other federal and state laws ... Federal Reserve Seizes Signature Bank....

“Cut Off From Life Itself”

Human Rights Watch 09 Mar 2023
... of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) over a 46-month period, contingent on a series of reforms, including bank and debt restructuring strategies, an audit of the Central Bank, a reformed bank secrecy law, passing a 2022 budget, and the unification of the multiple exchange rates....

White House ‘aware of’ stressed crypto friendly bank Silvergate, says press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

Cryptoslate 06 Mar 2023
The President will evaluate whether to call upon Congress to amend the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-tip-off statutes, and laws against unlicensed money transmitting to apply explicitly to digital asset service providers — including digital asset exchanges and nonfungible token (NFT) platforms.” ....

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