Italian banks pull out of Switzerland

Italian private banks are pulling out of Switzerland, due to crackdown on tax evasion, bank secrecy, and a decline in revenues, with eight lenders leaving Ticino in the past 18 months, Reuters reports.

The most recent departure has been from Italian insurer Fondiaria-SAI SpA, which sold its Banca Gesfid private bank to Switzerland’s PKB Privatbank AG last month for 134 million Swiss francs ($136.6 million).

“The banks that have been passing from one hand to another are all Italians, and this trend should continue, in my opinion. I think it’s the thought of practically every bank in Lugano,” said PKB Vice Chairman Fernando Zari.

Ticino in Switzerland has become a centre for stashing Italian money offshore due to its proximity to the country. The Italian government is now using methods such as police searches on entry to the canton and roadside cameras to reap capital needed for its purse.

Banks are also suffering from a decline in revenues as wealthy clients are staying out markets or holding onto their cash during a slow recovery from financial crisis, according to Lugano financial analyst and commentator Bruno Chastonay.

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