Statement by the Swiss Bankers Association on the final report from the Brunetti group of experts

  • The SBA has set two primary objectives as part of a strategy process:
    • to ensure legal certainty for clients, banks and bank employees, and
    • to facilitate growth and value creation and to secure and increase employment in Switzerland
    Tax compliance for the future coupled with a fair and reasonable settlement for the past and the best possible market access are ways of achieving these two goals.
  • We are pleased to note that the Brunetti group of experts has come to a similar conclusion. The SBA notes that the strategy recommended by the Brunetti group of experts is essentially the same as the one pursued by the SBA.
  • It is clear to the SBA that the most recent international developments concerning automatic information exchange (AIE) indicate the pressure on Switzerland to adopt a (global) AIE regime is being kept up and even increasing. Against this background, Swiss banks are keen to pro-actively negotiate with the EU on expanding the taxation of savings income and a type of information exchange acceptable to the EU. This could include automatic information exchange, subject to the following conditions:
    • A transitional period than runs beyond 1 January 2015, as Switzerland is not a EU-member state,
    • a fair and reasonable regularisation of the past and
    • no further discrimination on market access.
  • In parallel with the negotiations with the EU, Switzerland must attempt actively at OECD level to ensure the global standard for AIE provides a level playing field. Increased transparency requirements for anonymous structures such as trusts must be included. In addition, the global standard shall fulfil the following requirements: speciality principle, data protection and reciprocity.
  • For reasons of cost, efficiency and competitiveness it is important to avoid at all costs having more than one standard applying simultaneously.
  • Given the new strategic orientation, it is also positive that the Brunetti group of experts rejects an increased duty of due diligence for clients from countries with AIE or international withholding tax agreements. The SBA reiterates its call for the entire taxed assets proposal tabled by the Swiss Federal Council to be suspended, given international developments.
  • The expert group envisages offering OECD states international withholding tax agreements covering future taxation as well. The SBA rejects this, as countries that do not have AIE should be subject to the international standard. Withholding tax agreements, however, do not correspond to an international standard.
  • The SBA welcomes the expert group's recommendation to the Federal Council that in light of the changed strategy it should reconsider a services agreement with the EU. This should be done quickly so Switzerland is ready should a suitable window for negotiations open up. The SBA therefore calls once again for Switzerland to resolve the institutional problems rapidly.