Swiss banks are known for their anonymity, a practice dating back to 1934 with the country’s banking secrecy laws aimed at protecting customer privacy and preventing tax evasion. Bank employees are bound by strict confidentiality and face penalties for unauthorized information disclosure. However, recent years have seen a change in these laws due to international pressure to combat tax evasion and financial crimes.
Tax evasion involves hiding income or assets from tax authorities to lower taxes owed, while financial crimes involve illegal manipulation of financial markets or use of funds. Swiss banks are used to hide assets and evade taxes, as well as for money laundering, fraud, and embezzlement.
Individuals and businesses who use Swiss banks to evade taxes hide their assets and income from tax authorities in their home country. These assets may include cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, and other investments. By keeping them in a Swiss bank account, they can avoid paying taxes on them in their home country, which is illegal.
Similarly, Swiss banks can be used to commit financial crimes such as money laundering, fraud, and embezzlement. For example, criminals may use Swiss banks to conceal illegal activities or move money across international borders to evade detection.
To combat tax evasion and financial crimes, many countries have increased pressure on Switzerland to share information about bank customers. Switzerland has also entered into agreements with other countries to automatically exchange financial information according to international standards set by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In addition to traditional banks, there are new digital banks like N26, Revolut, and Monzo, popular among tech-savvy customers. The most reliable Swiss bank is UBS, the largest by assets with $1.4 trillion and a leading wealth management and investment bank. Switzerland remains a top destination for private banking and wealth management due to its stability and security, and its range of services. To open a bank account in Switzerland, you will typically need to follow these steps:
- Determine your eligibility: Banks in Switzerland typically have requirements for opening an account, including proof of residency, financial stability, and a minimum deposit. Some banks may also have restrictions for non-residents or citizens of certain countries.
- Choose a bank: Switzerland has many banks to choose from, including traditional banks and newer digital banks. Consider factors such as the bank’s services, fees, reputation, and customer reviews when making your selection.
- Gather necessary documentation: To open a bank account in Switzerland, you will typically need to provide a valid passport, proof of address, proof of income, and other financial information. You may also need to provide a reference from a current or previous bank.
- Complete the application process: You can complete the bank account application process in person, online, or by mail. The bank may also require you to attend an in-person meeting to complete the application process.
- Fund your account: Once your application is approved, you will need to fund your account with a minimum deposit. Some of the banks may require you to maintain a minimum balance.
Note that the exact requirements and process for opening a bank account in Switzerland may vary depending on the bank and your specific circumstances. It is best to check directly with the bank for their specific requirements and procedures.