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Offshore tax havens have come under increasing pressure from international governments to align with global banking standards. This shift would include the move towards information transparency. For decades governments of tax havens have prided themselves on its secrecy laws which aided and shielded the wealthy from scrutiny within their own countries.

Switzerland, being one of the most prominent havens for the world’s rich seeking tax insulation, has felt the impact of pressure from governments like the US and UK the most. One of the most significant turning points came in 2008, under the backdrop of the financial crisis, where the US authorities started pursuing UBS, the biggest Swiss bank, with the charge of helping thousands of US citizens hide money from their Internal Revenue Service.

UBS only managed to escape prosecution after divulging the details of 4,450 client accounts and paying a fine of $US780 million.

In latest developments, Germany and Switzerland have just signed a treaty which will see Swiss banks taxing any German money held in a Swiss Account. It does not however provide a clause for the disclosure of identities, which will mean that German’s would still enjoy anonymity even while their offshore money is being taxed.

In Canada, The Canada Revenue Service (CRA) has also followed suit and upped its fight against Canadians trying to avoid paying tax by investing in offshore accounts. Ongoing efforts between the CRA and other international organizations from countries like Germany have joined forces in trying to clamp down and exert pressure on governments like Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Costa Rica and others to bring their practices more in line with international regulations.

Today, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for Canadians to open accounts in Switzerland with stricter policies being in place. And the pressure is not only coming from foreign offshore banks but from local Canadian banks who are making it extremely hard for you to move funds around.

With Switzerland coming under fire and Monaco, Andorra, Costa Rica, British Virgin Islands and Liechtenstein all adopting international banking standards put forward by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Singapore and Hong Kong’s popularity as tax havens is rapidly growing. Between these two countries one can now find some of the world’s most secret accounts.

A clear difference today is that managing an offshore bank account is no longer a guaranteed means of maintaining your privacy, and that you may have to look beyond the traditional tax havens like Switzerland to try and reap benefits from more emerging tax havens.