A Brocker from Switzerland sent me this – the Ambassador there sent a letter in September to the Swiss banks concerning the ongoing problem of closed accounts.
The original (German) from Handelszeitung is here
Perhaps one of our German-speaking Brockers could translate/paraphrase from the comments section.
An explanation (English) regarding the Ambassador’s acts & the situation is here
The top U.S. representative in Switzerland deplored the fact that Swiss banks closed the accounts of U.S. citizens and turned away new clients. LeVine wrote that she had received numerous letters from fellow Americans complaining that they didn’t have access to basic banking services in Switzerland.
The letter was sent to numerous banks, for instance Migros Bank and at least to one bank that still awaits a fine in connection with the tax dispute in the U.S., according to the «Handelszeitung» report. The timing of the letter thus appears a little unfortunate and will have caused some irritation.
A string of Swiss banks this year still were occupied with closing the tax dispute with the U.S., with fines the normal outcome of the U.S. investigations. The institutes not just had to plead guilty to violating U.S. laws in conjunction with their business with U.S. clients, but also had to promise to remain on a righteous path in the future – at least in respect to the U.S.
…The criticism leveled at Swiss bank by LeVine isn’t just tough to take because of the timing, but also because of what it implies. Some banks were ruthless in closing the dossiers of U.S. citizens, no doubt. But today’s reluctance to have any dealings with U.S. clients has more to do with hard business facts.
Banking for the Rich
Banking in compliance with U.S. regulation is so expensive that business with the normal, moderately wealthy expat doesn’t pay off. And given the unpredictable behavior of the U.S. authorities in tax issues, the risks and costs far outweigh the potential benefit of offering services to the 20,000 U.S. expats.
Swiss banks of course still do business with U.S. clients. About 40 companies have specifically licensed unit for that purpose. But of course: those services are restricted to the very rich, making it worthwhile. Several asset managers are also working on their onshore services in the U.S.
Swiss banking is still interested in U.S. customers. But not exactly in the way U.S. Ambassador LeVine had hoped for.
The letter is here: Letter from Susie
@Maz57, I wonder when IBS is going to be declared to be a Russian stooge website.
Russia and numerous IBS participants supported Trump. Both with good reasons, since Russia and IBS and Trump’s party’s platform all support RBT. Trump supports Russia. RBT supports treasuries of Russia and most other countries except Eritrea and the US. Does Russia support IBS? Who is whose stooge?
US Embassy Switzerland links to this website with a list of 23 banks in Switzerland that reportedly offer accounts to US citizens. Using some judgment, I’ve divided them into retail banks and private banks. Ordinary Americans, without around $1 million to invest (or possibly much more), wouldn’t make it past the reception at a private bank. Their inclusion in this list may be mostly about window-dressing:
Banque Cantonale du Valais
Bank EKI Genossenschaft
Berner Kantonalbank AG
Migros Bank AG
St. Galler Kantonalbank
Thurgauer Kantonalbank Bank
Valiant Bank AG
Cornèr Bank Ltd.
Bordier & Cie Geneva
Hyposwiss Private Bank Genève SA
Baumann & Cie, Banquiers
Privatbank IHAG Zürich AG
Rahn & Bodmer
Bank Vontobel AG
Another page at this website lists three banks (and one intermediary) that purportedly offer mortgages to
PostFinance markets mortgages for other banks and in the past has not been willing to market mortgages to Americans since the associated banks would not.
US Ambassador Suzan LeVine can now claim that her letter-writing campaign was successful and can retreat to the US in two weeks, when her political appointment (finally) ends.
A further comment on the retail banks. Many of these banks have a limited geographical footprint and will only service customers in their canton. So, for an American living in Canton Zurich, the canton with the highest population, there would likely be five choices:
Migros Bank AG
For an American living in major cities such as Basel or Geneva, there would probably be four choices, since their cantonal banks are not listed:
Migros Bank AG
Mostly just window-dressing by Ambassador LeVine.
I haven’t been following this issue but from what you write the situation in 2016 between the US and Switzerland was such that because of US regulations the US ambassador feels obliged to come out with a list of, in practice, 4 banks where Americans residing there might be able to have an account. What’s the figure for any other nationality? 50? Wow. Proud US citizens we are.
@Fred: There are four retail banks across Switzerland where American citizens can bank: Credit Suisse, Migros Bank, PostFinance and UBS. These are the same “big 4” that offered retail banking services to Americans before the US Ambassador began her letter-writing campaign. In some areas/ cantons, a fifth or even a six retail bank is available. For example, in Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton, it appears that Americans could also bank at Corner Bank, in addition to the four.
There are about 250 banks in Switzerland, although many of these are so-called private banks, which offer primarily asset management services. Their services would be unavailable to ordinary mortals.
The US Ambassador once again shows that she is filled with hot air.
The Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce has published a similar list of banks on its website that purportedly offer services to Americans in Switzerland:
Since many of the banks on the list are asset-management banks or retail banks with a limited geographical footprint, for most Americans in Switzerland there are still the same four banks that offered retail banking services before Ambassador LeVine’s letter-writing campaign as after. These are:
However, if an American happens to live in the mountains near Wilderswil, Canton Bern, s/he could possibly bank at Bank EKI Genossenschaft, which appears on the list, a bank with 50 employees and four branches.