The 2011 Financial Secrecy Index top slot goes to Switzerland

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The top slot in the 2011 Financial Secrecy Index goes to Switzerland - now considered the most abusive secrecy jurisdiction in the world as a result. There is good reason for that. As the Tax Justice Network says:

Since the financial crisis emerged, Switzerland’s share of the global market in offshore financial services has increased, as a result of its role as a safe haven.Although Switzerland has signed a number of OECD-style information exchange agreements, which have allowed a limited penetration of Switzerland’s fabled bank secrecy, we consider these operationally ineffective, so they have only a limited impact on our ranking (what is more, many other jurisdictions competing with Switzerland in our rankings have signed significant numbers of information-exchange agreements too.)

Switzerland also continues to resist automatic information exchange -- the effective kind – and its widespread involvement in the administration and use of trusts, foundations and offshore companies remain a major barrier to tackling tax evasion and illicit financial flows.

In partnership with Luxembourg in particular, Switzerland has fought hard against efforts by the European Union to expand automatic information exchange and tighten up on tax collections, preferring to play a divide-and-rule game by signing individual deals with powerful EU players countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom.

Swiss banks have also sought to mitigate the limited efforts of crackdowns elsewhere – notably by the United States – by increasing their efforts to attract illicit flows from developing countries, to make up a supposed ‘shortfall,’ and by increasing their activity in Asian centres such as Singapore and Hong Kong, where there is perceived to be less ‘heat.’

Switzerland remains a major, active and interventionist impediment to global financial transparency, and despite some recent timid improvements it fully deserves its position at the top of our ranking.

See TJN's full report on Switzerland here.