For the time being, the Swiss are holding out and one cannot help wondering whether recent scandals around certain US institutions, such as the IRS, have not stiffened their resolve.
The news is that the lower house of the Swiss Parliament has "refused to debate a bill that would allow Swiss banks to pass client information to the US tax authorities". The Bill will now return to the Senate who had reluctantly passed it, after threats from the US that it "would indict Swiss banks, and possibly even cut them off from the dollar market" if its parliament disobeys instructions. The Swiss parliament will be rising this week for summer, so the Bill will not be discussed till the next session. If the lower house refuses to debate it again, it will die an unnatural death.
In January Switzerland's oldest private bank, Wegelin, closed after being indicted and fined $58m by the US authorities after admitting in court to helping American customers to hide more than $1.2bn from the Internal Revenue Service.That would be the Internal Revenue Service that is waging a losing fight to clear its own name and for whose abolition there are ever more calls in the United States. Let us not forget the European Union that is standing in the shadows, hoping to get a piece of the action.
In 2009, Swiss bank UBS paid $780 million and handed over details of more than 4,000 accounts in order to avoid indictment.