OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 4 July 2017 – The Foreign Policy Commission of the National Council has lodged a motion (19 to 0 votes with 1 abstention), calling on PostFinance to investigate the extension of basic financial services for Swiss Abroad. Since 2008 Swiss Abroad find it increasingly difficult to maintain a banking relationship in Switzerland. Our countrymen abroad need a bank account to maintain health insurance, facilitate social security contributions or to conduct financial transactions related to real estate ownership.
To support the continuous increase (2% annually) of the international mobility of our countrymen, obstacles to this mobility must be removed as much as possible. Since 2008, however, banks in Switzerland have often rejected Swiss Abroad as customers, or they are being charge significantly higher account management fees than persons domiciled in Switzerland.
On the recommendation of National Councillor Laurent Wehrli (FDP/VD), the Foreign Policy Commission of the National Council has lodged a motion, calling on PostFinance to investigate the extension of basic financial services for Swiss Abroad, to enable them to fulfill their obligations. PostFinance, whose main shareholder is the federal government owned Swiss Post, bears a special responsibility for Swiss citizens.
The motion by the Commission continues on the one lodged by National Councillor Roland Rino Büchel (SVP/SG) on 4 May, 2017, which was rejected by only three votes and also demanded that all Swiss Abroad should be able to open an account with a system-relevant bank. The rejection of this motion triggered a wave of indignation among Swiss living abroad.
On 16 June, 2017, State Councillor and Vice-President of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), Filippo Lombardi (CVP/TI) had lodged a motion in relation to system-relevant banks, which was signed by 35 members of the Council of States. He calls on the Federal Council 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.
For the past nine years, the banking issue has been the focus of the discussions of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (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.
Press conference on 17 August, 2017
The OSA will organise a press conference ahead of the CSA meeting in Basel on Thursday, 17 August, 2017 at 10:30am, to explain the next steps by the OSA in relation to the banking problem of the Swiss Abroad