GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Bank Sarasin announced Monday 30 July that clients who do not comply with tax authorities in their countries will see their accounts closed by the end of 2012, in order to reduce risks for the bank.
The Geneva-based private bank says it will stop dealing with clients who do not pay taxes on funds held in Swiss accounts. ”Growing pressure on Swiss bank client confidentiality and on assets held offshore shows that a business model which focuses on non tax-compliant assets is not fit for the future”, it says in a statement.
Sarasin confirmed that regulatory authorities had issued final approvals for a majority holding by the Swiss-Brazilian Safra Group in Sarasin, with the closing transaction due Tuesday 31 July. The stake, previously owned by Rabobank and worth CHF1.05 billion, is expected to allow Sarasin to expand into emerging markets, notably in the Middle East and Asia, as well as in Latin America.
First-half results show Sarasin’s operating income down nine percent compared to the previous year. The bank notes that “structural pressure on earnings calls for a cautious approach”. Net profits were off 29 percent, with lower average client assets.
In December 2011, Sarasin sold its stake in Neue Zürcher Bank;NZB was one of 11 banks currently being investigated by US authorities on suspicion of helping US clients evade taxes.