Swiss banking secrecy has come under fire in recent years. The abuse of Swiss banks by dictators like Ferdinand Marcos, General Noriega, and Mobutu put the spotlight on Switzerland and raised discussion about the country's banking se-crecy. But it has to be told that it considers about dictators, who were warmly received by governments around the world (not just by Swiss banks) as long as they were their countries respected presidents or Prime Ministers.
What is the purpose of Switzerland's banking secrecy? Swiss banking secrecy exists to respect and protect privacy in financial matters. It is certainly not there to serve criminals or to support illegal activities.
Unlike many other countries, where banks deliver information about customers' accounts and deposits to almost anyone, Swiss banks respect a big portion of discretion.
The special relationship the Swiss have with their money has a long tradition. In the thirties, against the background of the developments in Germany, banking secrecy was incorporated in the federal law on banks and savings institutions.
Swiss banking secrecy is not always perceived properly abroad. In popular nov-els and movies, Switzerland is often portrayed with a beautiful scenery (nice mountains – tasty chocolate!) with indestructible banks and dubious figures with briefcases full of banknotes, which is neither flattering nor realistic, more a cli-ché. Anybody who takes the time to study the Swiss banking secrecy will soon find out how far the simple reality is from fiction that is more exciting and inter-esting for gossip column.
The banking secrecy is doubtlessly an important factor of Switzerland's success as a financial centre, but by no means the only one. Today, as in the future, Swiss banks are synonymous with safety and discretion; but they also stand for know–how and experience, performance and service. Together with the political stability and independence of our country, and the strength of the Swiss...
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