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GERMANY

Germans probe Coutts bank’s Swiss branch

German prosecutors are investigating the Switzerland-based private banking arm of Coutts for allegedly helping clients avoid tax, British parent company the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on Thursday.

Germans probe Coutts bank's Swiss branch
Photo: AFP

Coutts, one of the world's oldest banks that lists Queen Elizabeth II among its clients, comes under the spotlight after Swiss prosecutors began an investigation of British bank HSBC following similar allegations.
   
"A prosecuting authority in Germany is undertaking an investigation into Coutts & Co Ltd in Switzerland, and current and former employees, for alleged aiding and abetting of tax evasion by certain Coutts & Co Ltd clients," RBS said in its annual results statement.
   
RBS is seeking to sell the international arm of Coutts in order to focus on its wealthy clients based in Britain.
   
The RBS statement said Coutts was cooperating with the investigators, and chief executive Ross McEwan told ITV news the bank would take "severe action" if wrongdoing was found.
   
Coutts is also cooperating with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) "regarding the role of Swiss banks in concealing the assets of US tax payers", according to the statement.
   
As part of an agreement to amicably resolve the DOJ's investigation, Coutts collected evidence of the tax status of all US-related account holders and presented the results in November.
   
A resolution was expected this year and provision had been set aside for liabilities resulting from the review, the statement said.

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TRAVEL

Travel: Are neighbouring countries still open to Swiss tourists?

Borders between Switzerland and its neighbours are open. But given high coronavirus infection rates, border nations have tightened their entry requirements.

Travel: Are neighbouring countries still open to Swiss tourists?
Good old days in Paris. Photo by AFP

Yes, people from Switzerland can still to go to France, Germany, Italy and Austria, but it is not as easy as it was before the second wave of Covid-19 swept the entire region.

Of the four states bordering Switzerland, Austria is the easiest to enter.

For the time being, it does not restrict travellers from Switzerland. The borders remain open and no quarantine or Covid test is required for Swiss residents.

Like Austria, Italy has not to date implemented any access restrictions or quarantine requirements for Switzerland. The only condition set by the Italian authorities is that each person entering the country must complete a form declaring that they have not tested positive for Covid-19. Otherwise, it is necessary to observe a 14-day quarantine. 

However, before travelling south of the border keep in mind that Italian cinemas and theaters are closed, and restaurants must stop serving their customers at 6 pm. The authorities have also imposed a night curfew from 10 pm until 5 am.


READ MORE: How will lockdowns in France and Germany affect Swiss residents? 

 

France

Since October 30th, France has been in lockdown, which will last until at least December 1st. As such, travel on French territory is prohibited, except in well-defined cases — including trips to get to work, trips to buy essential goods, or trips for compelling family reasons — and on presentation of an ‘exit certificate’.

Germany

Unlike France, Germany has not implemented a new shutdown. However, restaurants, bars and leisure facilities like theaters and cinemas are closed until December.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last week that the country's borders with its neighbours, including Switzerland, would remain open.

Gemany already placed Switzerland on its quarantine list on October 22nd, because Swiss Covid infection rates exceed those of its neighbour.

This means that anyone who enters from Switzerland must be tested on arrival in Germany. The tested person must then quarantine until the result comes through.

But the German state of Baden-Württemberg, which borders Switzerland, exempts Swiss arrivals from quarantine, under some conditions.

For example, those crossing the border from Switzerland to visit family and friends will be permitted to do so without quarantine, provided they do not stay longer than 48 hours. 

Baden-Württemberg's authorities are also allowing residents of Appenzell, Aargau, Basel, Basel-Country, Jura, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau and Zurich to come to Germany without being tested, as long as they stay no longer than 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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