Everyone is probably familiar with the much-discussed anonymous bank account. In Switzerland it was possible to open a bank account by number. But due to changed legislation, such an anonymous bank account is no longer possible there either. The (theoretical) option remains of a number account via so-called ‘offshore banks’. ‘Offshore’ means “off the coast” and alludes to island nations. Of course, this is only half the truth. Although many small islands offer offshore services, they do not do so exclusively. Sometimes there are also countries on the mainland with access to the sea such as Belize and Panama, sometimes only small ‘islands’ in the mountains such as Liechtenstein and Andorra.
Anonymous bank account used for money laundering
In any case, for transfers, the full and correct name of the account holder must now also be provided for a Swiss bank account. The government is trying to prevent money laundering in this way. Anonymous bank accounts are no longer allowed.
Distinguish between tax fraud and tax evasion
Government interference in the financial affairs of individual citizens is a very sensitive subject among the wayward Swiss. In 2010, there was a government proposal to drop the legal distinction between “tax fraud” and the much milder “tax evasion”. That caused quite a commotion. Citizens in Switzerland want to be left alone. People do not want omnipotent authority and fiscal tutelage . People hate the bureaucratic display of having to report every donated meal to the government as part of their income.
At the mercy of tax investigators
Does the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion disappear? In the eyes of the Swiss, then they are at the mercy of tax investigators without any protection. The presumption of innocence would therefore tilt in the opposite direction. Every Swiss person would automatically appear as a likely tax criminal.
Opening a bank account by number in overseas tax havens
The only option for opening an anonymous bank account remains so-called “offshore banks”. They usually have their registered office in overseas tax havens. These are tax-advantaged countries, for example in the Caribbean. But even there it is not easy to open a number account. It would be practical if the bank involved had a branch in the Netherlands. Because then all the application formalities could be completed here. Otherwise it is almost impossible to open such an anonymous account locally.
Transfer is not allowed
For the first deposit, people prefer to opt for a cash deposit. But keep in mind that you are not allowed to import unlimited amounts of money from the Netherlands to other countries. From certain amounts there is an obligation to report cash to customs. Intended to prevent money laundering. In fact, it is only possible to deposit money abroad in small portions into an anonymous account. In theory, a transfer is possible. But it is at odds with the principle of the anonymous account. Because once you have transferred money abroad in this way, the route can be traced exactly.
Identification required in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands it is no longer possible to open an account by number. When opening each account, identification is requested from the owner. How different things were in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, bearer savings certificates were immensely popular.
A savings account in your grandchild’s name
By the way, the ID requirement when opening a bank account has only been in effect for approximately 40 years. In the 1960s and 1970s you could still have a savings account registered in your name without identification. There was no passport or driver’s license involved. Opening a savings account in your grandchild’s name also went a lot smoother back then. This also applied to the account in the name of a club or association. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the identification requirements were sharply tightened for tax reasons.
Bearer savings certificates
It was also barely 30 years ago that savings banks sold bearer savings certificates on a large scale. These bearer securities were usually marketed under the name savings bonds or growth savings bonds :
- they only listed a number, no name;
- interest calculation based on compound interest (interest on interest);
- available in nominal denominations of 1000, 5000 and later also 10,000 guilders;
- as a rule, the term was 5 years;
- no identification was required for redemption;
- blocking due to loss or theft was not possible;
- renting a safe was an option;
- the possessor of the documents was automatically the rightful owner.
As mentioned, savings bonds were immensely popular among citizens for tax reasons. In addition, they also offered a very attractive return when compared to the current interest rate.