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Swiss Banking Secrecy

Preserving Documents

Banks must preserve their records for 10 years as of the last entry to them (five years in the European Union). The obligation applies equally to current accounts, securities account statements, and to all correspondence. This period is especially crucial to their clients heirs, as it sets the statutory limit to their entitlement to obtain documents. This does not mean, however, that the bank is not authorized to hand them over if it has preserved them for longer than 10 years. The basic documents drawn up when an account is opened - showing the identity of the account holder and, if necessary, that of the ultimate beneficiary as well as that of the persons authorized to operate and issue instructions concerning the account - are permanent in nature. Accordingly, they must be kept for a period of 10 years as from the time of closure of the account. It should be noted that this period for Preserving Documents in no way affects the rights of claim to current account balances and of ownership of securities belonging to the account holder or his heirs (cf. Chapter 4, letter b).

   
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