* Reforms, crackdown by govts have succeeded -SocGen CEO
* Nobody willing to take the risk anymore -CEO
* U.S. foreign compliance law now unnecessary -CEO
PARIS, Oct 8 The practice of funnelling money to
tax-free or low-tax countries such as Switzerland in order to
avoid paying more punitive taxes at home is finished, the head
of French bank Societe Generale said on Tuesday.
Governments and regulators across the world have cracked
down on tax evasion in the wake of the financial crisis, a drive
which has seen the United States and Europe heap pressure on
Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and others to surrender more
"With all the reforms today that have been done by various
governments, tax havens - that is to say people with secret bank
accounts hidden somewhere to avoid the tax authorities - in my
view, that is over," SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudea told
French television channel BFM.
Citing the example of Switzerland, he said: "What is
happening right now means that nobody will take that kind of
Swiss banks last month publicly apologised for their role in
helping tax cheats, following a landmark settlement with U.S.
authorities that would allow lenders to come forward over tax
evasion by U.S. customers and avert prosecution by paying a
The crackdown has effectively meant that an incoming U.S.
law requiring foreign banks to surrender information on U.S.
account holders has become unnecessary, Oudea said.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, was
enacted in 2010 but takes effect in July 2014. It requires
foreign financial institutions to tell the U.S. tax authorities
about Americans' offshore accounts worth more than $50,000.
"What is happening today, particularly in Switzerland, makes
this law unnecessary," Oudea told BFM.
The head of UK advocacy group Tax Justice Network, John
Christensen, said the idea that the days of tax havens were over
at this stage "remains entirely wishful thinking".
"The use of secret bank accounts is rapidly being superseded
by using offshore trusts and secret foundations," he said.
"We're also seeing a wider number of jurisdictions, with Hong
Kong, Singapore, Mauritius very rapidly gaining market share,
and that is partly a reflection of what's happening as wealth
concentrates in the Far East."