The Swiss tax office notified 12 Swiss banks and one fiduciary that the U.S. is asking for legal assistance in rooting out tax cheats, according to a government bulletin made public this week. The requests cite FATCA, a U.S. banking and tax law which is applied abroad.
The requests represent vestiges of American clients at Swiss banks which haven't agreed to a data handover. FATCA is an offshoot of a decade-long U.S. hunt for money hidden offshore, including in Switzerland.
Additionally, U.S. and Swiss officials in 2012 agreed on a program for Swiss banks to come clean on undeclared accounts and avoid prosecution. Many of the banks listed in the most recent Swiss bulletin, like Vontobel and Mirabaud, elected simply not to take part in the program.
Pictet, which is also listed in the bulletin, couldn't take part because it is still in the crosshairs of a U.S. criminal investigation for its offshore dealings with America's wealthy. Other banks include Barclays' Swiss arm and Union Bancaire Privée, both of which did participate.
The remaining banks listed are CA Indosuez, Hinduja Banque, of which didn't take part, as well as Schroder & Co, PKB Private Bank, and Zuger Kantonalbank, which did. The Swiss fiduciary listed in the legal aid is Arofin.
Fibi, a defunct bank whose assets were bought by Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, is also on the list, as is Notenstein La Roche, which was purchased by Vontobel three years ago.
The legal aid comes in response to requests from U.S. tax investigators under FATCA, or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Switzerland and the U.S. last year finally ratified a double taxation agreement, paving the way to cooperate.
Read more at: Tax Times blog