BY GRANDPA, 16 October 2013
If you would have asked me a few months ago, I’d have said that there were too many Italian politicians and influential big shots with secret Swiss bank accounts for the Italians to ever support and end to bank secrecy in nearby Switzerland. But yesterday it happened—suddenly and with only a tiny bit of warning to those in the know. The Italians may not have asked for the Swiss Government to send the Italian (and all foreign) fiscal authorities records of all Italians & others with money in Switzerland. But as part of their new transparency, the Swiss are doing it anyway. Here’s the story:
We were driving across the border around 2PM yesterday, leaving Switzerland at Chiasso to enter Como. It was not rush hour — yet there was a back up of hundreds of cars waiting to cross the border into Italy. Most had Italian plates. All were being stopped, questioned, and usually searched. There were dozens of uniformed Italians from the “Guardia de Finanza” and also many cops from the Swiss Dogana –seemingly working together.
When we finally got to our turn at the border I noticed that the Italian driver of a Mercedes just in front of us was being stopped, pulled over and questioned. After a few seconds, he was carrying 3 big canvas travel bags out of his trunk into the inspection room.
I commented “ I’ll bet they caught that guy with full money-bags, poor bastard.”
O.K. Now it was our turn. They cop asked us “Do you have anything to declare?” I gave my usual answer, “Just groceries and a few beers.”
Usually if asked at all, I got a wink and a go ahead. But not this time. More questions. “Do you have any cash?” Yes. “How much?” Not much. “How much over €10,000?” Are you kidding? I said. I haven’t counted, but may have a few hundred — tops, if I am lucky.
With that, they waved us on . Did my cheap low profile car have anything to do with that? Not sure, but we were one of the few vehicles that were not being searched yesterday.
It was only when we got home that I turned on the news & learned what was really going on. The tax authorities were making note of and reporting who was moving cash cross-border—and how much. Obviously many Italians were tipped off that their Swiss account balances were going to be revealed. So they came into Chiasso or Lugano to empty their Swiss accounts and take home the cash. Turned out not to be such a great idea. Why? Because the heart was on.
In recent months, the Swiss borders were mostly unattended, because Switzerland had in effect, joined the E.U. Schengen area . But the border controls and car searches were heavy not only yesterday. I’d say, presumably this will continue for a while. My guess is that there are similar roadblocks and searches at the airports, train stations, and all borders with France, Germany and Austria. Want to know the reason? Here it is!
So there it is. I really wonder how the Swiss banks will survive. My guess is that 99.9999 % of all foreigners with money there only want the privacy factor , not for their dubious skills at “capital preservation.” Keeping assets “under the mattress” is probably now better — for both privacy and not losing money. The mattress does not have a 1% annual service charge.
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