Switzerland to Clarify ‘White-Money’ Strategy in Early 2013

Switzerland won’t advance plans to require foreign clients of Swiss banks to declare they are tax-compliant until January as it reconciles two sets of legislative proposals, the Federal Department of Finance said.

“The consultation proposal for a tax-compliant and competitive financial center will be submitted along with a draft consultation on combating money laundering to the Federal Council in January 2013,” Daniel Saameli, a spokesman for the Bern-based department, said in an e-mailed statement today.

Switzerland is developing a “white-money strategy” in response to a crackdown on offshore financial centers by the U.S. and European countries eager to recoup money from taxpayers banking abroad. At the same time, talks with the U.S. to end a tax-evasion probe haven’t concluded and Germany’s Social Democratic Party is blocking an accord that would tax German customers of Swiss banks while keeping their identities secret.

The Swiss government said in February it will propose “concrete measures” by September covering the regularization of past undeclared assets, the introduction of withholding taxes and obligatory declarations for foreigners to show they are tax-compliant in other countries.

Part of that process won’t take place before next year while the government also looks at reforming secrecy rules to facilitate cross-border exchange of information for investigations on money laundering and terrorist-financing investigations, according to Saameli. Sharing details including bank account numbers and information on balances and transactions with other jurisdictions is currently prohibited in the Alpine country.

The two sets of proposals will be published together to ensure consistency, Saameli said.

The government expects to issue a broader report on the Swiss financial center that was originally intended for next month by the end of October, Anne Cesard, a spokeswoman for Switzerland’s State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, said by e-mail.