Swiss Ditch Bank Secrecy Rules
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2009 7:50 AM CDT
Kaspar Villiger, future chairman of the board of Swiss bank UBS, is interviewed after a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, March 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro Della Bella)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Switzerland might not be a haven for tax evading ne’er-do-wells for much longer. The country agreed today to ease its banking secrecy laws, eliminating the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion on foreign accounts. Previously, the Swiss cooperated with foreign governments only on tax fraud, which is a criminal offense, not evaders. Austria and Luxembourg made similar moves today, following the lead of Liechtenstein and Andorra yesterday.

The Swiss government insists, however, that it maintains its principles of banking secrecy, and that information will only be shared on a “case by case” basis, on “concrete and justified” requests. Switzerland is hoping the move prevents it from being blacklisted when world powers meet next month to discuss tax cheats.