“It’s all about Fairness”, Bank Coop wrote on the 23rd of May, 2007.
With its fair banking campaign, the medium-sized Swiss bank is emphasizing its conscious focus on broader society and offers good services at fair prices
It’s all about Fairness
In May, 2012, Bank Coop had 250 customers who lived in the United States.
Wir haben derzeit rund 250 Kundenbeziehungen zu Kunden, welche in den USA leben.
Generalversammlung Bank Coop, 2. Mai 2012
On July 17, 2012, Bank Coop declared that it was terminating the accounts of 250 US customers.
Die Bank Coop trennt sich derzeit von ihren US-Kunden – rund 250 Kundenbeziehungen werden liquidiert – und will im Bedarfsfall auch die Kündigungsfristen verlängern.
I inquired on Friday, July 27th, 2012, if this ruling also applied to dual Swiss citizens who lived and worked in Switzerland and was informed that they are also denied banking services at Bank Coop if they are considered as being “US Persons”. So, I searched for an official statement from the bank on the net, but could only find one on Equity Yield Notes.
EYNs may not be offered, sold or delivered within the United States of America or to U.S. persons except as permitted by the Prospectus.
Equity Yield Notes
On Securities, it writes that the purchase or sale is not allowed for customers who live in the US, but makes no mention of US persons in Switzerland.
keine Kauf- und Verkaufsaufträge für Wertschriften von Kunden mit Domizil USA entgegengenommen werden, wenn diese aus den USA ausgelöst werden.
This leads me to the conclusion that they either haven’t updated their records, or they can’t since such would not be about “fairness” or it would be in violation of Swiss laws. Swiss law allows banks to deny services to “politisch exponierten Personen“, which are high ranking government officials involved in money laundering. Bank services may also be denied when the source of the customer’s money is questionable and the law prohibits banks from accepting money of criminal origin. Yet, all of this doesn’t apply to Swiss citizens who work and live in Switzerland without being in violation of any laws but are simply identified as being “US persons”. Bank Coop is likely reacting to the Wegelin situation:
Möglicherweise kam Wegelin nur deshalb unter Beschuss, weil die Amerikaner eine aggressive, sagen wir: imperialistische Auslegung der eigenen Steuergesetze vornahmen. Dass die Amerikaner dies taten, ist enttäuschend. Dass die Schweizer Behörden nichts dagegen unternahmen, ist erschütternd.
In the case of Wegelin, the US government applied an imperialistic interpretation of its own tax laws, while the Swiss government failed to take action.