Switzerland: Proposal to dismantle bank secrecy

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On the 17th January, The Swiss government stated that it would be initiating a public consultation on converting anonymous bearer shares in private businesses into registered shares which have owners’ names attached.

The suggestion would apply only to non-publicly listed companies, who would be confronted with financial penalties for non-compliance. The proposed consultation is the latest step taken by the authorities in Switzerland in order to destroy banking secrecy, which has seen more and more tax evaders willing to come clean due to the fear or prosecution.

According to sources, the registered share proposal has been recommended by a panel at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The proposal aims to combat tax avoidance through shell companies which hold bearer shares.

These particular shares allow a person to remain anonymous as they do not need to have any name or information regarding ownership attached to them, including when the shares are transferred.