Swiss to end secret bank accounts

March 14, 2009 at 4:24 PM
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ZURICH, Switzerland, March 14 (UPI) -- Switzerland is bowing to international pressure, agreeing to end its policy of allowing secretive banking, officials said.

The Times of London reported Saturday that the move means Switzerland will join Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Andorra, which also agreed this week to share limited information on their accounts on request from foreign governments.

The newspaper said Zurich's decision to end its 300 years of banking secrecy precedes the G20 meeting, where British Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to press for international tax havens.

Switzerland has said it would share information on bank accounts with other countries on individual cases. Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said despite the change, there would be no "fishing expeditions" for information.

"It's an enormous change, the most fascinating development since the end of the Second World War," said Jay Krause, a partner at Withers. "The Swiss continue to say that banking secrecy remains. That is in part true but it is for ever changed."

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