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


BSP intensifies push for easing bank secrecy law

Manila Bulletin 21 Apr 2021
As the only country in the world with a constraining deposits secrecy law, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will request President Duterte to certify the proposed measures on Bank Secrecy Law as urgent, particularly the BSP’s version of the law as House Bill No....

BSP pushes passage of Bank Deposits Secrecy bill

The Manila Times 21 Apr 2021
Diokno said the Bank Deposits Secrecy bill, or House Bill 8991, will amend Republic Act 1405 or “The Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law,” which provides limitations on the depth of information that the central bank can access....

BSP bats for more power to probe bank deposits, stiffer penalties vs info leaks

The Philadelphia Inquirer 21 Apr 2021
... --- will face long jail terms and stiff fines under the central bank's new proposal to update the country's archaic deposit secrecy laws....

Lebanese judge continues to defy ban on currency-trading investigation

Arab News 21 Apr 2021
“However Michel Mecattaf, the director and one of the company’s shareholders, confirmed that his company is abiding by the Code of Money and Credit, meaning that it is subject to banking secrecy.”. Mecattaf has also stated that he is following the law “and a witness in this case, not a suspect.”....

Immigration is the wealthy world’s challenge of the century

Taipei Times 13 Apr 2021
One measure that should be open to Washington is to eliminate US banking secrecy laws that allow Latin American gangsters to launder cash freely and buy real estate in some US statesDelaware was a long-time favorite — without disclosure of beneficial ownership. (The US Congress passed a law mandating better corporate transparency last year.)....

PH banks facing solvency distress as COVID lingers

Manila Standard Today 11 Apr 2021
It said the economic shock “would weigh on corporate earnings and then spill over to banks ... “Nonetheless, material gaps remain on BSP’s legal powers related to conglomerate supervision, and bank secrecy laws are limiting the effectiveness of supervision, but also have wider financial sector implications,” the IMF said....

Lebanon provides 'updated' data for central bank audit

The New Arab 09 Apr 2021
New York-based Alvarez and Marsal in November pulled out from the audit after the central bank claimed that provisions including Lebanon's banking secrecy law prevented it from releasing some of the necessary information ... secrecy laws for one year to allow for the forensic audit....

IMF Executive Board Concludes Financial System Stability Assessment with Philippines

International Monetary Fund 09 Apr 2021
The economic shock would weigh on corporate earnings and then spill over to banks ... Nonetheless, material gaps remain on BSP’s legal powers related to conglomerate supervision, and bank secrecy laws are limiting the effectiveness of supervision, but also have wider financial sector implications....

BitMEX Former CEO Arthur Hayes Turns Himself in After Bank Secrecy Act Violation Charge

Coinspeaker 07 Apr 2021
Arthur Hayes, the co-founder and former CEO of BitMEX Derivative Exchange, together with two other co-founders Samuel Reed and Benjamin Delo as well as their first employee Gregory Dwyer, were accused of violating the federal bank secrecy act as well as conspiring to violate the law....

Will Lebanese banks crash Middle East finances?

Egypt Independent 01 Apr 2021
Lebanon has been known as “the Switzerland of the Middle East” for decades because of its strict banking secrecy laws ... They include the county’s strict banking secrecy laws and tax exemptions and the fact that, for years, local banks were offering inflated interest rates on US dollar deposits in order to lure more depositors in....

Lebanon meets with international agencies to assess economic recovery needs post Beirut blast

The National 01 Apr 2021
Lebanon in a 'deliberate depression' and faces dire consequences, World Bank says. Lebanese judge charges central bank governor over foreign exchange misuse ... Lebanon's central bank has scuttled a forensic audit, refusing to provide the necessary information for review citing bank secrecy laws from the 1950s....

Peso to remain strong – Diokno

Manila Bulletin 28 Mar 2021
the lifting of secrecy of bank deposit; to allow banks to expand credit activities that comply with the mandated lending for agriculture development; to create a credit risk database for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); to improve the protection of financial ......