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February 25, 2009

AFP: Pictet warns against easing Swiss secrecy

By Spear's

GENEVA (AFP) Switzerland’s key financial services industry could be decimated if its trademark secrecy is given up as part of reforms to cope with the global economic crisis, a prominent Swiss private banker warned.

GENEVA (AFP) — Switzerland’s key financial services industry could be decimated if its trademark secrecy is given up as part of reforms to cope with the global economic crisis, a prominent Swiss private banker warned.

Without banking secrecy, “the financial centre would shrink by up to half of its current size,” Ivan Pictet, a private banker who heads the Geneva Financial Centre bank association, told Le Temps daily on Tuesday.”

Rather than making up about 12 percent of gross domestic product, the financial sector would make up just about six or seven,” he said when asked what would happen if Switzerland gives up its bank secrecy practices in the face of calls for greater financial system transparency.

Critics say that the system must be made more transparent so that financial risk can be more easily assessed and capital flows more easily monitored, two key failings contributing to the current crisis.

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