Swiss banks expect exodus as foreign tax authorities demand increased transparency

Swiss banks are expected to lose billions of francs in deposits and assets as cash-strapped European governments, struggling to balance their budgets, are applying pressure on Switzerland to introduce tighter rules to prevent foreigners from using secret accounts to avoid their local taxman.

In an interview with Schweizer Bank magazine, head of UBS wealth management Juerg Zeltner, said that hundreds of billions of francs would flow out of Swiss banks in the coming years.

Zeltner’s remarks are mirrored by German financial consultancy firm Zeb Rolfes Schierenbeck, which is forecasting that wealthy Europeans will withdraw as much as CHF200bn of funds and assets from Swiss banks by 2016.

The Swiss government has reached deals with Germany, UK and Austria to increase transparency and 11 Swiss banks are being investigated by US tax authorities.

Recently, a former UBS banker was paid $104m by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for revealing systematic efforts by the bank to help rich Americans evade taxes in their home country, which resulted in UBS being fined $780m in the US.