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13 May, 2014

Experts: Swiss decision to disclose foreign accounts will help China fight corruption

Beijing, (People’s Daily Online), May 12, 2014 – The Swiss government announced its support on 7 May for an agreement signed with the Organization for Economic Cooperation on the implementation of standards of automatic exchange of information between banks.

The signing of this agreement will mean the end of a Swiss tradition stretching back hundreds of years protecting the secrecy of private accounts. It represents a forward move in attacking tax evasion, money laundering, and concealment of valuable assets.

The tradition of secrecy in Switerland has long been one of the competitive strengths enjoyed by its banks, resulting in the high confidence of customers from all over the world. As a result, Switzerland has been able to attract two trillion dollars of expatriated wealth. Due to their lack of transparency, Swiss banks are often accused of helping tax evasion, and as a result Switzerland is classified as a “tax haven”.

Huang Feng, the director of a research center in international criminal law at the Institute of Criminal Law Science Research at Beijing Normal University, says that the disclosure of documents relating to accounts for their international clients by Swiss banks will still be subject to certain legal restrictions. Switzerland will provide legal support and other means to combat money laundering.

Huang said China and Switzerland have signed interim agreements. China will be allowed to work in collaboration on some files and will thereby have access to information on the customers. Huang Feng suggested that the two countries should conclude these legal agreements as quickly as possible to facilitate stable and normative cooperation.

Huang also noted that China is currently working on anti-money laundering operations, with an emphasis on foreign transactions, but these efforts are still limited. He said that he had already addressed a number of cases involving corrupt officials transferring funds to Switzerland.

He believes that the question whether the agreement can succeed in its role depends on the way in which it is applied by various countries.

Tu Tiebing, assistant professor at the Institute of International Communication at Communication University of China, who has spent a long time in Switzerland, believes that the agreement, if properly and legally implemented, will help China’s fight against corruption.

The article is edited and translated from“瑞士将公开外国账户信息 专家称有助中国反贪, source: Beijing News