Rich Germans Hoarding Millions in Swiss Bank Accounts | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 19.11.2006
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Business

Rich Germans Hoarding Millions in Swiss Bank Accounts

Wealthy German citizens hold more than 800 billion Swiss francs (516 billion euros, $645 billion) in bank accounts in neighboring Switzerland mainly to avoid taxation, a Swiss business weekly reported this week.

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Cha-ching! Rich Germans are swelling Swiss coffers with their hoarded millions

The magazine Cash said its figures were based on the latest banking data released by the Swiss central bank.

New deposits during the third quarter amounted to 41.9 billion Swiss francs at the country's largest bank, UBS, and 31 billion Swiss francs at Credit Suisse. One-third of those amounts came from Germany, it added.

About one-quarter of the deposits managed by banks in Switzerland come from German company sell-offs or management bonuses paid out in Germany, Cash estimated.

Swiss banking preferred by rich Germans

Schweiz Grenze

Austria is so last year; Germans prefer Switzerland now

The weekly publication cited data from German tax authorities which indicated that small savers tend to prefer offshore banking in Austria or Luxembourg, while wealthy Germans turned to Switzerland.

Since July last year, Switzerland -- which is not a member of the European Union -- levies a withholding tax on interest earned by EU residents on their Swiss accounts. The revenue is mainly paid back to EU governments.

The agreement between the EU, including Germany, and Switzerland was part of a broader attempt to discourage tax evasion as capital flows more freely between European nations.

Swiss banking secrecy laws forbid the release of transaction details to authorities, unless it is part of a criminal investigation. Tax evasion is not classified as a crime under Swiss law, but as a civil offence.

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