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


Lebanese banks close doors to customers to protest ruling

Gulf News 07 Feb 2023
The ruling overturned the previous verdict, which allowed the bank to pay them with a check ... It called on the government to implement reforms that the International Monetary Fund has made a condition for an economic recovery program — a capital controls law, lifting banking secrecy, and restructuring the country’s commercial banks....

French envoy criticises Lebanon over 'slow' reforms needed for IMF loan

The Jordan Times 05 Feb 2023
The IMF is also demanding reform of banking secrecy laws and a restructuring of the banking sector as a whole, as well as a law on capital controls ... There, he will also meet officials from the World Bank, which is expected to finance energy deliveries. Lebanon's political impasse has hampered efforts to resolve its worst-ever financial crisis ... Image....

French envoy criticizes Lebanon over 'slow' reforms needed for IMF loan

The Manila Times 04 Feb 2023
Beirut, Lebanon ... The IMF is also demanding reform of banking secrecy laws and a restructuring of the banking sector as a whole, as well as a law on capital controls ... There, he will also meet officials from the World Bank, which is expected to finance energy deliveries ... .......

Leak of $100 billion Credit Suisse accounts faces criminal probe

Gulf News 03 Feb 2023
Switzerland's Attorney General's Office confirmed it's investigating suspected acts of corporate spying and violations of banking secrecy laws after the information on 18,000 accounts was leaked to an international consortium of media, who went on to publish a series of exposes last February under the tagline "Suisse Secrets."....

Swiss prosecutors launch case over Credit Suisse dirty money data leak

Reuters 03 Feb 2023
... Switzerland's biggest bank into a dirty money scandal ... Prosecutors said the alleged offences in the case were violation of banking secrecy laws, damage caused to Credit Suisse and making confidential business information available to foreign organisations or their agents....

Swiss prosecutors launch case over Credit Suisse dirty money data leak – reports

FX Empire 03 Feb 2023
Prosecutors launched the case, for violation of banking secrecy laws and damage caused to Credit Suisse, after receiving a formal complaint, Swiss daily Tagesanzeiger reported. That newspaper and others cited sources as saying the bank, which is working to revive its fortunes after a series of scandals and heavy losses, was the complainant....

Prosecutors target ‘Suisse Secrets’ bank whistleblowers

Swissinfo 02 Feb 2023
+ Media freedom clashes with banking secrecy The so-called ‘Suisse Secrets’ leak of bank ... The OAG is investigating suspected breaches of economic intelligence, trade secrets and banking secrecy laws....

Banking secrecy exception proposed for Swiss media

Swissinfo 02 Feb 2023
Swiss journalists could in future receive leaked bank data without fear of criminal prosecution if a parliamentary motion is incorporated in banking secrecy legislation....

Secrecy Is a Scourge on Finance. How to Bring Hidden Wealth Into the Light.

Barrons 31 Jan 2023
has taken action against financial secrecy before ... In recent decades, secrecy has rivaled profit as the main motive in the way we practice capitalism ... A key building block of this secrecy system is anonymous companies ... banks to remain in secrecy ... Nor would it be unprecedented to ban a key element of the financial secrecy system....

European microstate votes to keep gambling alive

Russia Today 30 Jan 2023
The country was considered a tax haven for decades, until it relaxed its banking secrecy laws in 2013 and joined an international forum to cooperate with foreign tax authorities. Two years later it struck a deal with the EU to exchange information with the authorities in Brussels on the accounts of EU citizens held by its banks ... ....

Liechtenstein votes resoundingly against banning casinos

Reuters 29 Jan 2023
ZURICH, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Voters in Liechtenstein on Sunday roundly rejected a proposed ban on casinos in a referendum that has polarized the tiny principality and its 40,000 citizens ... The country was on an international blacklist of tax havens until it began easing bank secrecy laws more than a decade ago ... Our Standards ... Read Next ... Gallery ... .......

How the Arizona Attorney General Created a Secretive, Illegal Surveillance Program to Sweep Up Millions ...

Scheerpost 27 Jan 2023
Because members of marginalized communities rely heavily on these services rather than traditional banks, the burden of this government surveillance falls disproportionately on those already most vulnerable to law enforcement overreach. Further, the secrecy surrounding law ......

Salceda: Don’t tax the rich, but collect on luxury goods, other pricey items

Manila Standard 20 Jan 2023
We have a bank secrecy law, one of the strictest in the world, so how can you find that P200 billion?” Salceda said in an ANC interview ... Former Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has also said it would be difficult to impose a wealth tax on the richest one percent in the country due to challenges such as the bank secrecy law....

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