Swiss Bank Crackdown Accelerates As Credit Suisse, UBS Clients Raided In Germany, France
While virtually every European risk indicator is now being gamed to underreport the true nature of the capital flow panic on the continent, one remains steadfast: Swiss nominal yields, which as we pointed out a month ago, have become the only true indicator of liquidity stress. And as noted this morning, Swiss 2 Year bond just hit a record nominal -0.37% (which coupled with record low yields in German yields explains everything about where money is sprinting to in Europe, and just how much "confidence" in the system is left). And while the SNB continues to suffer massive losses on its EURCHF peg, the reality is that it continues to offer a free put to all those who wish to move away from EUR exposure and into the relative safety of the CHF (the risk of cantonal disintegration is still relatively low). Which is why the only recourse authorities have in dealing with the now record flight to Swiss safety is brute force. Sure enough, as Reuters reports, clients of the two largest Swiss banks: Credit Suisse and UBS was raided in two independent, but likely linked, operations in Germany and France, respectively, in a show of force that moves beyond mere tax-evasion and has a goal of scaring anyone who still thinks of keeping their money in the relative safety of Geneva and Zurich bank vaults.
German tax authorities have raided Credit Suisse clients and French officials searched the homes of UBS employees, deepening the crackdown on foreigners hiding money in Swiss offshore accounts to dodge taxes.
Switzerland's strict banking secrecy rules, which have helped build a $2 trillion offshore financial sector, have infuriated cash-strapped governments as they try to crack down on tax evasion by wealthy citizens.
Roughly 5,000 German clients of Credit Suisse are being probed on suspicion of tax evasion and some had their homes searched, a bank source said on Wednesday, as European tax officials broaden their investigation to include clients as well as banks.
Meanwhile, the offices of UBS in Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg were raided on Tuesday on suspicion of money-laundering and aiding tax evasion, according to a bank source.
The private homes of several high-ranking UBS employees in Strasbourg were also searched, the source said.
And while events like these were normal in 2009 and 2010, following recent "tax-deals" between banks and sovereigns they were supposed to be a thing of the past. It appears that they are now back in vogue, as Europe reverts to the oldest type of capital controls: intimidation.
Credit Suisse struck a deal with Germany last September, which saw the bank pay 150 million euros ($183.83 million) to German tax authorities in a bid to end an investigation over allegations the bank and its employees helped Germans dodge taxes.
Germany and France, along with Britain, represent the largest markets in Europe for Swiss private banks.
The German investigation also comes against the backdrop of a deal struck with Switzerland to levy taxes on German funds stashed in Swiss bank accounts that is due to come into effect next year, a l though German lawmakers still have to approve it.
UBS was forced in 2009 to pay a fine and release the names of 4,500 clients to U.S. officials to end a damaging tax probe. U.S. authorities are still investigating Swiss banks including Credit Suisse and Julius Baer over tax offences.
Switzerland is trying to get the U.S. investigations dropped in exchange for the payment of fines and the transfer of names of thousands more U.S. bank clients.
Hopefully nobody is surprised by this: as the money runs out, 'events' such as these will become more frequent, until the authorities once again shift to confiscating that other non-money: precious metals. All for tax preservation purposes of course, as the much anticipated wholesale financial tax for everyone which we discussed in September 2011 is finally implemented.
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