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Facts About Switzerland

Switzerland as a Financial Centre

The Swiss banking sector employs 3,5% of the country's working population. They generate more than 8% of gross domestic product.

At the end of 1991 the balance sheets of Switzerland's banks and finance houses totalled 1'115 billion francs. This is over four times the country's national income. The balance sheets of America's banks amount to about half the US national income.

The capital-to-assets ratio of Switzerland's banks in 1990, according to the most recent OECD figures, was 6,6%. America's banks stood at 6,5%, Germany's at 3,8% and Japan's at 3,2%.

An opinion poll by the Wall Street Journal indicated that 12 banks will lead the world by the end of the decade. They will include the bog three Swiss banks.

Various surveys (such as Citicorp 1990, Euromoney 1991) estimate that roughly 50% of internationally managed (non-domestic) funds are entrusted to Swiss banks.

Foreign assets make up about 35% of the aggregate balance sheet total of Switzerland's banks (well over 50% with trust funds included), a much higher proportion than the banks in the USA (10%), Japan (15%) or Germany (20%). A clear sign of the banks' strong international orientation.

Switzerland is an attractive location for Foreign Banks as well. In 1991 a total of 592 banking institutions and finance companies were operating in Switzerland. 233 of them have their origins abroad.

The Swiss capital market is counted among the most active in the world. In 1991 some 50 billion francs were taken up in bond and share issues.

Under article 47 of the federal law on banks and savings banks of 8 November 1934 the Swiss banker is bound to secrecy by law. Violations of this law are punished.

Swiss banks are subject to very strict legal rules and the scrutiny of a government supervisory authority. A bank may expand its business only so far as its capital and reserves prudently allow.

The Swiss bankers have laid down for themselves a code of conduct which defines exactly their duties and responsibilities.

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