Troubled times for Swiss Bankers
September 6, 2012
The Swiss banking sector is keeping its head above water in increasingly choppy seas, but must pass a series of crucial tests to thrive in future, according to the industry’s lobby group.
The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) identified rampant regulation, the global tax evasion row and barriers to key markets as the main challenges ahead.
Swiss banks suffered a 3.8 per cent drop in turnover last year to SFr59.4 billion ($62 billion), the SBA reported on Tuesday. Profits (SFr13 billion) and the number of employees (108,100) remained stable, but banks have shed a number of those jobs already this year.
But the still unresolved tax evasion dispute is hanging over the industry like a dark cloud and could hinder growth prospects once the global economy starts to improve.
Withholding tax deals with Austria and Britain are done and dusted, but political opponents in Germany, the most important partner, are threatening to torpedo the government’s agreement with Switzerland.
The latest dark twist to the tax evasion saga is taking place in the United States, where the authorities have pieced together enough information (from voluntary tax disclosures and the handover of Swiss banking data) to identify employees – leaving them open to potential prosecutions.
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