Swiss banks unmask identities, balances of secret account holders

The era of mystery-cloaked numbered Swiss bank accounts has officially come to a close as Switzerland, the world’s biggest centre for managing offshore wealth, began automatically sharing client data with tax authorities in dozens of other countries.

According to Reuters, the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) said on Friday it had for the first time exchanged financial account data at the end of September under global standards that aim to crack down on tax cheats.

Bank secrecy still exists in some areas — Swiss authorities cannot automatically see what citizens have in their domestic bank accounts, for example — but gone are the days when well-paid European professionals could stash wealth across the border and beyond the prying eyes of their tax man.

The initial exchange was supposed to be with European Union countries plus nine other jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Norway and South Korea.

“Cyprus and Romania are currently excluded as they do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security,” the FTA said.

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