Swiss Top Court Knocks Down Bid to Extend Banking Secrecy

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Switzerland’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that prosecutors cannot extend Swiss banking secrecy rules to all corners of the globe to pursue whistleblowers.

In a case drawing international scrutiny, the Federal Supreme Court by a 3-2 majority rejected an appeal by Zurich prosecutors in the case involving former private banker Rudolf Elmer, who denied all the charges.

The Swiss Banking Act requires employees of Swiss-regulated banks to keep client information confidential, but a number of staff have leaked account details to foreign authorities in the past decade as Western governments crack down on tax evasion.

Some lawmakers in the European Union had worried that the prosecutors’ move, if successful, would have deterred potential whistleblowers from supplying information on people accused of shifting their wealth to tax havens through accounts protected by secrecy laws.

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