First they shut down tax haven accounts at tiny nation island states like vanuattu and the Isle of Man and Jersey. Then they attacked Switzerland, the result being Americans were no longer welcome to do banking in Switzerland. Now the IRS has launched a new assault on offshore gold storage accounts adding tons of regulations that cripple and paralyzes any company daring to operate with Americans.
ViaMat, a Swiss logistics company that has been safeguarding precious metals since 1945, is literally the gold standard in secure storage.
They have vaults from Switzerland to Hong Kong to Dubai, and they count among their clients some of the largest mining companies in the world. They know what they’re doing.
And now they’re dumping US citizens.
ViaMat does a great deal of business within the United States. As such, the company is heavily exposed to the insane US regulatory environment.
As an example, the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act turned into more than 500 pages of regulation! The costs and risks associated with compliance simply became too much for ViaMat to bear.
This matter-of-fact letter from ViaMat management explains their decision:
“We are currently experiencing rapid and substantial changes in the general regulations within this business. The changes mainly relate to the tax structures and taxation systems of various countries. As a consequence of these changes VIA MAT INTERNATIONAL has taken the decision to stop offering this service at its vault [sic] outside of the US to private customers with potential US-tax liability.”
History of the Swiss Capitulation to the IRS:
2009: Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS agrees to turn over more than 4,450 client names and pay a $780 million fine after admitting to criminal wrongdoing in selling tax-evasion services to wealthy Americans.
July 2011: The second-biggest bank, Credit Suisse, comes under criminal investigation by US. The bank later makes a provision for a potential fine of CHF295 million.
February 2012: US justice department indicts Wegelin, Switzerland’s oldest private bank, on charges that it enabled wealthy Americans to evade taxes on at least $1.2 billion hidden in offshore accounts.
June 2012: US treasury department reaches a tentative agreement with Switzerland to help banks comply with US tax evasion regulations.
June 2012: Bank Julius Baer hands 2,500 employee names to US authorities in a bid to free itself from the tax probe, according to lawyers.
August 2012: Global bank HSBC hands over details of current and former employees to the US authorities.
November 2012: Private bank Pictet confirms it is also under investigation by the US.
December 2012: Two bankers and one former employee of the Zürcher Kantonalbank charged by US, accused of helping US clients avoid taxes.
January 2013: Wegelin private bank shuts its doors, following a guilty plea to charges of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through secret accounts. It agrees to pay nearly $58 million in fines on top of $16.3 million in forfeitures already obtained by the authorities.
May 2013: Swiss government presents bill to parliament that would let Swiss banks hand over internal information to US to avoid threatened criminal charges – though the banks still face fines likely to total billions of dollars.
The bill aims to save the banks from heavier punishment in the United States for helping wealthy tax cheats, by sidestepping its secrecy laws to let bankers disclose data to US prosecutors.
June 2013: Parliament rejects the so-called Lex USA bill, telling the government to make the decision.
July 3, 2013: The government announces a new data transfer framework for banks. Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf presents a “plan B”, under which banks which cooperated with the United States authorities would be deemed not to have violated Article 271 of the penal code, which forbids collaboration with foreign authorities.