On December 16, the Swiss Bankers Association published a list online which includes the names, last know addresses and nationalities of approximately 2,600 owners of safe-deposit boxes and accounts that have been untouched for 60 or more years.

Dormant accounts have long been an issue in Switzerland, a country steeped in famed bank-secrecy laws.  However, thanks to new Swiss regulations that came into effect earlier this year, this information was able to be released on Wednesday.  The new regulations allowing for the publishing of this information was lauded as providing legal certainty for lenders in Switzerland who seek to find the rightful owners of inactive accounts.  This newly published information is yet another contributing factor to the erosion of Switzerland’s bank secrecy as the tax authorities in the United States and elsewhere continue to hunt for undisclosed assets.

The information posted online relates to clients who have at least 500 Swiss francs in their accounts.  If the account remains unclaimed, the contents will be transferred to the Swiss government.  While the Swiss Bankers Association did not publish the specific amounts held in accounts, they did say that the total amounted to roughly 44 million Swiss francs.

Accounts in Switzerland become dormant after a decade without contact, but only those inactive for six decades or more will be published annually.  If you think they are entitled to dormant accounts, you can view and search the list at dormantaccounts.ch and make your request there.

For further information on this topic please contact Christopher J. Byrne at (212) 239-1931