Swiss to maintain banking secrecy laws

A parliamentary commission in Switzerland denied an attempt to revise banking secrecy rules in the country, despite recent criticism.

The two rejected motions sought to review Article 47 of the Swiss Banking Act, which makes it a crime to disclose information about a bank’s clients, even if it is in the public interest.

“From the point of view of the majority of the committee, there is no need for legislative action because Swiss banks have considerably evolved in recent years with regard to the prevention of money laundering and other similar crimes,” the Committee on Economic and Fiscal Affairs said in a statement.

On the subject, the institution added that a change in the law would “encourage public prejudice against private individuals,” according to the Swissinfo website.

The current law punishes anyone who discloses to “additional persons” information originally obtained from an employee or entity working for a bank with a fine of up to three years’ imprisonment.

In March, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Irene Khan, expressed concern to Berne about the absence of explicit exemptions for journalists or whistle-blowers.

“This hinders freedom of expression and freedom of the media, as well as impeding the free flow of information,” she noted in a letter published by Reuters.

In addition, Khan said during an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper that the banking law violates human rights and is an example of “criminalization of journalism”.

In Switzerland, press freedom is criticized after a law introduced in 2015 forced the media group Tamedia to cease its investigation entitled The Swiss Secrets about Credit Suisse bank clients.

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