Switzerland to Open Books on Tax Evaders

No more secret piggy bank?

Gordon Brown last night hailed the ­beginning of the end for tax havens, as Switzerland opened up its ­legendary system of bank secrecy and agreed to hand over information on wealthy clients suspected of tax evasion.In a remarkable week, Europe’s secrecy jurisdictions – Liechtenstein, Andorra, Austria, Luxembourg, Jersey and ­Switzerland – all entered into international information sharing agreements.
Swiss ministers said the government caved in after learning the country was going to be included this month on a ­blacklist of uncooperative tax havens drawn up by the Organisation for ­Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Having agreed to sign up to the OECD protocol on tax, Switzerland will hand over information on account ­holders suspected of tax evasion by another country.
Until now tax evasion was not illegal in Switzerland and secrecy has been the bedrock of its economy.
Hans-Rudolf Merz, Swiss president and finance minister, said yesterday: “Co-operation on taxes has become more important given the globalisation of ­financial markets and in particular against the background of the financial crisis.”
Switzerland is the world’s biggest tax haven. The world’s rich hide at least $1.89 tn (£1.35tn) of the estimated $7trn of ­private wealth there according to the Swiss Bankers Association, though others put the figure much higher.

It’s a start.