David Chaikin


Contrary to what is generally believed, Switzerland can not refuse assistance to a foreign country on the ground of bank secrecy. Switzerland’s international cooperation in criminal cases is circumscribed by its principles of mutual assistance. These principles act as firewalls in protecting fiscal secrets and incidentally limit more effective co-operation in dealing with international financial crimes. They also apply to administrative assistance and reduce the ability of foreign regulators to obtain important information to supervise their markets. Except in the case of tax fraud, Switzerland will not provide any international assistance in fiscal crimes. The Swiss principles of mutual assistance can not be circumvented by using Switzerland’s double taxation arrangements. The situation is exacerbated by the very broad Swiss anti-economic espionage laws which seriously impede investigatory activity of foreign governments and their agents in Switzerland.