End of Swiss banking secrecy in sight by 2018

Updated 08 October 2014
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End of Swiss banking secrecy in sight by 2018

GENEVA: Switzerland’s embattled banking secrecy could be dealt a final death blow in 2018, after the government decided on Wednesday to launch talks with other nations on the automatic exchange of account details.
In a statement, the government said it had “adopted definitive negotiation mandates for introducing the new global standard for the automatic exchange of information in tax matters with partner states.”
“Negotiations with partner states should commence shortly,” it added.
Long the bedrock of the Swiss financial sector, banking secrecy has come under mounting pressure since the global financial crisis.
The United States and European Union — of which Switzerland is not a member — have repeatedly pushed the Alpine country to give ground as they try to crack down on tax cheats who stash cash abroad.
The financial crisis, combined with scandals such as the Bernie Madoff fraud case in the US which rippled across the world’s banking sector, have spurred a tougher global regulatory environment.
The Swiss government had already announced plans to hold talks on information-exchange but had to formally adopt a negotiating mandate before they could begin.
“Switzerland reaffirms its intention to introduce the statutory basis for the automatic exchange of information in a timely manner so that Swiss financial institutions could commence collecting the account data of foreign taxpayers in 2017,” it said on Wednesday.
“The first exchange of information could take place in 2018, subject to parliament and possibly voters approving the necessary laws and agreements in good time,” it added.
Switzerland has lagged behind a group of 40 countries which have already announced that they will adopt new international standards, start collecting data in 2016 and exchange it from 2017.
It previously agreed to give ground in some areas in order to defend the overall principle of privacy.
For example, bilateral deals with Britain and Austria force depositers who have not declared revenue at home to come clean with their own governments or have their accounts taxed by the Swiss, who then transfer the funds without naming the clients.
But the likes of the United States and France have been unwilling to let Switzerland do anonymous tax collection on their behalf, and Switzerland ultimately caved in to their demands to hand over details of undeclared accounts.
Swiss banks, meanwhile, have faced massive lawsuits from aggrieved countries who accuse them of abetting tax dodging.
In the wake of such challenges, the banks have chosen to order foreign clients to get their tax affairs in order or face having their accounts blocked.


UAE to loosen visa rules for investors and innovators

Updated 21 May 2018
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UAE to loosen visa rules for investors and innovators

  • UAE cabinet announces the launch of an integrated visa system to attract talent and talent in all vital sectors of the national economy
  • The Council also announced changes in the system of foreign ownership of companies in the country, which allows the acquisition of 100% of the global investors by the end of the year

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates, home to financial hubs Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is loosening its residency laws and will grant long-term visas for up to 10 years to investors and highly-skilled professionals.
The 10-year residency visas will be granted to specialists in science, medicine and research, and to “exceptional students.” The state-run WAM news agency says the plan aims to attract global investment and innovators.
The UAE Cabinet approved the new rules on Sunday, saying plans are also on track to allow foreign investors 100 percent ownership of their UAE-based companies this year.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum affirmed that the UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. “The UAE has been open, governed by tolerance and contributed to by all who live on its land.
“Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation offer the best opportunities to attract international investment and exceptional talent in the UAE,” he said. “Our country is the land of opportunity, the best environment for realizing human dreams and unleashing their extraordinary potentials.”
The new regulations include raising the percentage of global investors’ ownership in companies to 100% by the end of the current year. He directed the Ministry of Economy in coordination with the concerned parties to implement the decision and follow up on its developments and submit a detailed study in the third quarter of this year.
The new regulations approved by the Council of Ministers and the authorities concerned have also set the procedures for implementing them to grant investors residence visas of up to ten years for them and all members of their families, as well as granting residency visas of up to ten years for specialized competencies in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields.
The new regulations also include visas for students studying in the country for five years and a 10-year residency for exceptional students.
Under current laws, foreign companies must have an Emirati owning 51 percent of the shares, unless the company operates in a free zone. Major brands Apple and Tesla are believed to be exceptions to the rule.