Federal Council presents report on compatibility of QIA with banking secrecy

Bern, 10.10.2012 - During its meeting today, the Federal Council adopted a report on the compatibility of the so-called Qualified Intermediary Agreement (QIA) with Swiss bank client confidentiality. The Federal Council stated that banking secrecy would not be violated by the Swiss banks' agreement with the United States. With this report, the Federal Council fulfils a mandate from the Control Committees of the National Council and Council of States from 2010.

On 30 May 2010, in their report on the disclosure of UBS client data, the Control Committees of the National Council and Council of States instructed the Federal Council to clarify questions on the application of Article 271 of the Criminal Code (SCC) and on the compatibility of the QIA with Swiss banking secrecy.

This request from the Control Committees of the National Council and Council of States was prompted by the general authorisation in accordance with Article 271 para. 1 of the Swiss Criminal Code issued in 2000 by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) for those persons dealing with the enforcement of the QIA concluded between the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Swiss banks or securities dealers. The FDF authorisation allowed those persons dealing with the application of the QIA, i.e. employees of banks and securities dealers, to carry out withholding tax deductions, in particular, based on US law.

According to the current qualified intermediary system, non-US persons do not have to disclose their identity to the IRS, whereas since 1 January 2001, US persons have been allowed to hold US securities only if they were prepared to sign a so-called W-9 form. The information on the form allows the qualified intermediary (QI) to disclose income earned on the securities to the IRS and thereby disclose the identity of the US person. The QI had to obtain the approval of clients to disclose their identity or obtain their consent that no US securities were being held for them. Due to the options that exist, the Federal Council concluded that the QIA does not violate banking secrecy.  

With regard to the authorisation granted in 2000 in accordance with Article 271 para. 1 of the Swiss Criminal Code, the Federal Council is of the opinion that, as things currently stand, authorisations of such political relevance as this case come under its authority and a generally abstract ruling on an individual authorisation with an undefined target group would have been preferable.


Address for enquiries

Mario Tuor, Communications, State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), tel.
+41 31 322 46 16, mario.tuor@sif.admin.ch



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The Federal Council
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Federal Department of Finance
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Last modification 03.10.2018

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