Swiss to ensure US bank clients know of probes

Switzerland said on Wednesday it has amended a decree to ensure that US clients of Swiss banks are informed of any probes against them, against a backdrop of increased action by Washington.

“The amendment should ensure that the procedural rights of affected persons domiciled in the United States remain guaranteed even if administrative assistance requests are submitted based on certain patterns of behaviour,” the Swiss finance ministry said in a statement.

US authorities have been seeking information from Bern regarding Americans holding Swiss bank accounts.

Concerned banks targeted by such administrative requests would now be required to inform their clients that they are being investigated.

In cases where the bank is unable to identify the account holder or inform the individual of the probe, it is up to the Swiss authorities to inform the individual through a publication in the Federal Gazette.

According to Swiss law, anyone targeted by a request for administrative assistance by a foreign authority can appeal against the transfer of his or her details.

Eleven Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse, Julius Bär and Zürcher Kantonalbank are currently being investigated by US authorities for allegedly helping Americans to evade taxes.

In relation to the probe, Bern has been transmitting details of US clients to the US tax authorities, according to Swiss media.


Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

Switzerland and Italy have pledged to conclude a long-awaited tax arrangement for cross-border workers by the end of the year.

Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

At a meeting in Rome between Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the two leaders said progress was being made on a cross-border tax arrangement. 

The agreement, originally negotiated in 2015, has as yet not been signed by either state. 

READ: How Switzerland avoided a coronavirus 'catastrophe' by protecting cross-border workers 

A 1974 agreement between the two countries doesn’t define cross-border worker. 

Sommaruga praised Switzerland’s decision to reject an initiative which would have restricted migration from EU countries and perhaps had impacts on cross-border workers. 

“In last Sunday's referendum, the Swiss people once again said that they want the free movement of people. It is a good thing for our country but it is also a good thing for the whole of Europe,” she said. 

“With neighbouring countries, Switzerland has adopted a regional approach excluding border regions and also cross-border workers from the quarantine regime. 

“I hope we can continue like this.”

While Switzerland rejected the migration limitation initiative, Ticino was one of four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons to vote in favour. 

Conte told reporters he hoped a deal was concluded “as soon as possible” and hoped it would be concluded by 2021. 

Conte hailed Italian cross-border workers as essential to the health system in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. 

READ: How Switzerland's cross-border workers are growing in number 

In the canton of Ticino, one in five healthcare workers lives over the border in Italy – approximately 4,000 people. Ticino’s population swells from approximately 360,000 people to 440,000 during an average work day due to cross-border workers from Italy.

Unlike with Italy, Switzerland has struck a tax deal for cross-border workers from neighbouring France, which was amended during the coronavirus pandemic.