Swiss banks have long been a favorite of less-than-forthright taxpayers. France has recently started a concentrated fight against tax evasion via foreign accounts, as many French families have traditionally used Swiss banks.
And the pressure appears to be working. Geneva bankers have told French customers they must “regularize” (a polite term for declaring hidden funds) and that failing to do so will result in their accounts being closed.
For the last decade, the U.S. has been pressuring the Swiss to open up about American account holders and disclose hidden funds as well. About a dozen Swiss banks are currently under investigation by the U.S. for allegedly helping wealthy Americans cheat on their taxes.
Credit Suisse recently pled guilty to a decades-long pattern of helping Americans evade taxes in offshore havens and agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties. After that case, other Swiss banks are settling their own U.S. tax disputes.
The era of hiding money in foreign accounts just may be coming to a close, as countries become more dependent on good relations with one another.