The spotlight is on Swiss banks this week after it was revealed that Italian financial police, Guardia di Finanza, had written to Swiss lenders requesting that they provide certain information about any bankers they have working in Italy. The requests demand information about their Italian units, local relationship managers and a breakdown of how their Italian clients’ assets are managed.
The news comes hot on the heels of a landmark case, in which a French court issued a record €4.5bn fine to UBS AG. The court found Switzerland’s largest bank guilty of aggravated money laundering on the proceeds of tax fraud and illegal bank soliciting.
The record fine, which is more than the bank’s whole net profit in 2018, is the largest fine issued for a tax case in French history. The court found that UBS had provided systematic support for the money laundering initiative, which saw bankers using software that automatically deleted records, as well as logoless business cards.
This looks to be a warning shot to tax dodgers and is the latest example of regulators cracking down on wrongdoing. Regulators are ramping up a zero-tolerance approach and there is increasing pressure on financial services firms to explore the underlying motivations of their clients, rather than turning a blind eye.