Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The United States has utilized numerous techniques to penetrate bank secrecy, with varying degrees of success. The United States and Switzerland have signed several agreements relating to bank secrecy and its role in United States criminal investigations. These efforts have allowed United States authorities to obtain normally privileged information in numerous investigations over the past ten years, although some confusion as to what information is available still exists today.

Two recent events have expanded the scope of information available to United States investigators and alleviated some of the confusion. In November 1987 the United States and Switzerland exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding which granted United States authorities greater access to Swiss bank records. In addition, in December 1987 the two houses of the Swiss Parliament enacted a new law making insider trading illegal." This law will allow United States securities fraud investigators greater leeway in obtaining normally privileged financial records from Swiss banks. These two developments make Swiss bank secrecy almost obsolete as a means of hiding ill-gotten gains from United States investigators. By this summer, United States authorities can expect to have access to Swiss bank records in almost all future investigations.