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Crackdown on Tax Havens Opens Opportunities for Bankers
The New York Times | April 05, 2012 | 11:02 PM EDT

The world’s tax havens are being forced to clean up their acts.

As regulators clamp down on money flows around the globe, governments, even those that prided themselves on the strength of their secrecy laws, like Switzerland, are facing pressure to share banking information and change their policies.

Now, private banks and wealth managers are scrambling to convert so-called black money — assets that have not been disclosed — into accounts that are above board.

The shift may provide opportunities for the industry. As more funds become legitimate, analysts say financial institutions will be able to sell extra wealth management products to affluent people and enter markets that had previously been off limits.

“There’s much less black money now than three years ago,” said Jean Schaffner, head of the Luxembourg tax practice at the law firm Allen & Overy. “It’s in the banks’ interests for clients to come forward with their money.”

For decades, Western governments tolerated offshore tax havens, places where the wealthy could park millions away from the gaze of their domestic authorities. Switzerland, in particular, developed a reputation as a place where the wealthy could rely on secrecy laws.

But the tide began to turn in 2008, particularly after the financial crisis prompted many governments to act in concert.

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