Swiss bid for referendum on bank secrecy fails

* No Swiss vote on bank secrecy

* Ticino League failed to gather enough signatures

* Bank secrecy undermined after UBS handed client data to US

ZURICH, Oct 12 (BestGrowthStock) – A campaign to anchor bank secrecy
in the Swiss constitution has failed after its organisers could
not muster enough support to force a referendum.

The government said in a public filing that a campaign
started last year by the Ticino League, a party from
Switzerland’s Italian-speaking south that is heavily dependent
on financial services, had not gathered enough signatures.

Referendums are common in Switzerland and citizens need to
collect 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months to force a
national vote.

Switzerland’s tradition of banking secrecy that has helped
make it the world’s biggest offshore wealth management centre
has come under concerted attack in recent years as part of a
global clampdown on tax havens.

The campaign entitled “Defend Switzerland — bank secrecy
must be in the constitution” was launched in March 2009, just
after Swiss authorities ordered UBS AG (UBSN.VX: )(UBS.N: ) to hand
over names of U.S. clients suspected of dodging taxes in order
to settle criminal fraud charges against the bank.

Later in the year, Switzerland said it would hand over
details of about 4,450 UBS bank accounts to U.S. authorities.

In June, the Swiss parliament finally backed the UBS deal,
ending nearly a year of uncertainty that threatened the bank’s
recovery after a government bailout during the financial crisis
as wealthy clients fled.

The two houses of parliament agreed not to hold a referendum
on the UBS treaty — originally demanded by the right-wing Swiss
People’s Party (SVP) — which would have prevented the handover
of the client accounts on time.

The Ticino League had sought to amend the constitution so
that Swiss banks had to keep their customers business secret and
could only hand over information to authorities with their
clients’ permission.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Paul Taylor)

Swiss bid for referendum on bank secrecy fails