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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

WSJ.com - Swiss Fight Against Tax Cheats Aids Singapore's Banking Quest (Link valid for about 6 more days)

"For decades, the ultrarich looking for discreet banking services gravitated to Switzerland, where account secrecy was sacrosanct. But when Swiss authorities acceded to pressure from the European Union to discourage tax evasion, the door opened for a new challenger to woo the world's wealthy: Singapore.

The tiny Asian nation has beefed up account secrecy protections, has changed trust laws and has begun allowing foreigners who meet minimum wealth requirements to purchase land and become residents.

Now private-banking money is flooding in from at least three sources: Asians who have grown rich from the booming Asia-Pacific economy, foreigners seeking to invest and do business in Asia, and Europeans moving money from Switzerland for tax purposes. Swiss banks are expanding in Singapore to get in on the action...

"Singapore is one way of getting around the withholding tax," said Raymond J. Baer, chairman of Zurich private bank Julius Baer Holding Ltd., in a September interview following the announced purchase of Banco di Lugano, a small Swiss bank with private-banking operations in Singapore. Last week, Mr. Baer said that being in multiple jurisdictions enables the bank to serve an international clientele, and that the Singapore office was a platform for growth in Asia. "Singapore also offers a tax-friendly environment," he noted.

A spokeswoman for the Monetary Authority says Singapore "does not seek to attract tax evaders.""

I wonder why this isn't in the Business Times.
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