Obligation for system-relevant banks to accept Swiss Abroad

OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 16 June 2017 – State Councillor and Vice-President of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), Filippo Lombardi (CVP/TI) has today lodged a motion in relation to system-relevant banks, which was signed by 35 members of the Council of States. He calls on the Council of States to ensure that all Swiss nationals can open an account with such a bank. This in return for the implicit state guarantee to save them if necessary.


The motion by State Councillor, Filippo Lombardi, is based on the repeated demands by the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) – the ‘Parliament of the Swiss Abroad’ and legislative body of the OSA – to enable the 775,000 Swiss Abroad to establish a bank account in Switzerland or maintaining banking relationships on reasonable terms.


On 4 May 2017, the National Council, by a majority of three votes, rejected the motion by Roland Rino Büchel (SVP/SG), who also demanded that all Swiss Abroad be able to open an account with a system-relevant bank. The rejection of this motion triggered a wave of indignation among the Swiss Abroad.


The number of Swiss nationals living abroad is growing steadily (by about 2% annually) and everyone is aware of the importance of the role of our countrymen abroad, especially at the economic level. The migration pattern has also changed considerably. Our countrymen are increasingly moving abroad for professional reasons on a short-term basis. It is they, above all, that need a bank account in Switzerland, to facilitate and maintaining of health insurance, social security contributions, payment of living costs in Switzerland or to conduct financial transactions related to real estate ownership. It is necessary to remove the obstacles faced by Swiss Abroad. 


In the message by the National Council on the amendment to the Banking Act of 20 April 2011, it is stated unequivocally that system-relevant (too big to fail) companies will have an implicit guarantee by the state if they get into financial trouble.


In return, all Swiss, wherever they reside, must be able to maintain an account in Switzerland at reasonable conditions.


The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) welcomes this motion. For the last nine years, the banking issue has been the focus of the discussions of the CSA. Neither the repeated requests to the relevant departments of the Confederation, nor the contact with the Swiss banks, the Swiss Bankers’ Association or the Swiss banking ombudsman has resulted in finding an amicable solution. The solution to the problem therefore requires a legislative change.