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Swiss accounts move east

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, April 22, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Within a decade, the world's ultrarich won't be harboring their wealth in Swiss bank accounts. Instead, their money will likely be in Singapore, according to the research firm WealthInsight.

In 2011, Switzerland housed approximately a third of the $19 trillion in private wealth tracked by WealthInsight. But rapidly growing wealth in the Far East, combined with government crackdowns on private accounts in popular locales such as Switzerland and the Caribbean, has the wealthy seeking quieter offshore locations for their money.

Four years ago, the United States forged an unprecedented agreement with UBS Bank of Switzerland for the names of account holders suspected of tax evasion. So far, they've reportedly collected approximately $5.5 billion from tax evaders.

This year, the government began casting a wider net when a federal judge in New York supported an Internal Revenue Service demand for the records of people who opened accounts at smaller Swiss banks through a UBS branch in Connecticut. And in January, a 79-year-old widow in Florida pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns and evading taxes on $40 million that had been stashed in a Swiss account by her husband. She already has agreed to pay $22 million in penalties.

There's nothing wrong with keeping money offshore and there are legitimate reasons for doing so. But those who think they'll avoid taxes with the move will find that Uncle Sam has a very long reach.

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