Categorized | Banks, Legal, Miscellaneous

Swiss Bank Account

Posted on 12 February 2007 by Fixer

First of all, Swiss bank client confidentiality means that the banks are responsible for keeping confidential all information involving their clients. Bank client confidentiality protects clients’ privacy in Swiss law; the reasoning is similar to that applied to the confidentiality of the doctors-patient and lawyer-client relationships.

There are several misconceptions concerning anonymous bank accounts in Switzerland. Banks in Switzerland are required to follow KYC (know your client) regulations which require them to positively identify who is the beneficial owner of an account. It is therefore not possible to open an anonymous account.

What about numbered accounts? Numbered accounts are not anonymous. Contrary to what one might think from media accounts, there is no such thing (or at any rate, no such thing ANYMORE) as an anonymous account in Switzerland. The name of the holder of a numbered account is known. The subtlety is that the holder is known only to a small group of people inside the bank. The rationale for this sort of account is to drastically reduce the possibility that entities within the bank may, in fact, be spies, sometimes spying on of foreign governments. As regards the issues of client confidentiality, a numbered account is treated the same on a juridic level as any other account. The big difference is that only a few people within the bank have access to the client’s information. This can also be a hindrance, because it means you can’t come into the bank, walk up to a teller, and take out money. You have to make an appointment with one of the individuals within the bank who knows you.

Opening a bank account in Switzerland takes less than an hour. As a walk-in, make sure you bring a valid passport, and be prepared, if you are making substantial deposits (i.e. $500,000) to provide information on the origin of the funds you are depositing. If you are opening a salary account you will need to bring a copy of your employment contract to substantiate your annual income.

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