Sydbank treasure without a banking license

January 10th, 2012
Story by PETER NYHOLM og JULIE H. TOFT | Finans Watch

Large Spanish one million houses were mortgaged to Sydbank could sell investment services and pull money home to the Swiss banking subsidiary.Sydbank did not even have a Spanish bank license. But it did not prevent the bank from placing advertisements and pay for men to attract wealth from rich foreigners residing in such Spain Sydbank Switzerland with headquarters in the Alpine town of St. Gallen.

Velhaverne had persuaded the wisdom of borrowing against their houses one million low-interest mortgages through Nykredit Danish on Kalvebod Brygge in Copenhagen. The money from the loan was transferred to Sydbank Switzerland, which invested money. Customers with property in Spain and France were promised that the investments yielded a higher return than the mortgage cost in interest. It could therefore be an additional income.

But it was the reduction of payment of inheritance tax in Spain, which was the central cause of belåningsfinten, according to internal communication from Sydbank newspaper Jyllands Posten had access to. According to several sources with close knowledge of Swiss banking, this scam is only meaningful if one can hide his assets behind the Swiss banking secrecy.

Because when money is placed in Switzerland, is the customer’s responsibility to report their existence to the relevant tax authorities.

Inheritance

Tax Director Johnny Schaadt Hansen of Tax Administration Department for Economic Crime is certainly not impressed with the model if it is used by Danes with residences on the coast: “For example. Has two children at home in Denmark, who will inherit a house in Spain, which is mortgaged to the way the real value of the asset less. So you must also pay an inheritance tax, which is significantly smaller,If you have not given up the money that is in a tax haven country, “said Johnny Hansen Schaadt, who believes that the bank may be called to account for tax if its advice has been too aggressive. But it depends on a concrete assessment in each case.

Gold customers in the south

For Sydbank it was an excellent way to withdraw money and earnings to the business in Sydbank Switzerland, focusing on wealthy “private banking customers”, because it was often the villas on the Costa del Sol, there were 7-10 million. AUD worth. And it gives good returns to the bank to invest one million customers’ wealth.

 

Finten put so much in the system that Sydbank hired intermediaries or between men and paid them to lure customers to the bank. There were also created ads, which were advertised that Danes could turn their home equity if they had property in Spain or France. The following text was such spent in a private banking ad targeting Danes with home ownership in Spain: “By borrowing against your property and invest your equity, you have a unique opportunity to optimize your inheritance and property.”

 

It all happened while Sydbank had no banking license to the Spanish banking market. It is allowed to serve foreign customers, who turn to a Swiss bank, but it is not allowed to actively seek out customers in countries where you do not have a banking license. It was also Sydbank perception, according to the internal communication from Sydbank.

Among other things, therefore changed Sydbank practice over time, so the very aggressive advertising with advertisements for belåningsfinten was replaced by ads where you only advertised Sydbank as fire.

The Danish advisory tax accountant Christen Amby (SF) is not surprised Sydbank steps:
“It’s the kind of maneuvers which banks live on. They imagine their customers into thinking that they can make money in such a maneuver, and so serves Sydbank both to disseminate the loan and to manage their assets. But in practice, the customer is probably poorer . Can the bank so even getting people to believe that they can save tax, including cheat death duties in Spain, so it’s perfect. “


Customers must provide

Christen Amby says that it is primarily the bank’s customers who break the law if they fail to declare that they have a fortune standing in Switzerland.For Sydbank he should now be apparent from the bank accounts that part of the bank’s business concept is based on helping customers to cheat on taxes, and it is probably difficult to reconcile with the bank’s CSR policy (Corporate Social Responsibility), he believes. Even though it is the Spanish tax authorities, who cheated.

The Swiss Financial FINMA has a circular to the country’s banks made aware of the importance of preserving the Swiss banking sector’s reputation. It is notable that banks “should not contribute to tax evasion and similar submittal of incomplete or misleading evidence.”
Spokesman Tobias Lux from FINMA will not deny that banks operating in the country, must help with tax optimization in other countries. But, he says, banks must comply with Swiss and local laws.

“No matter how Swiss banks offer financial services, they must follow Swiss law. In addition, the bank must also follow the local rules, but generally it is up to local authorities to enforce this. That said, the violation of foreign law by Swiss Banks may also be a breach of Swiss banking regulations. “

Requirement of propriety

According to Tobias Lux is not necessarily illegal for a bank in the country to help foreigners with tax speculation. Yet it is something we will look at:

“It would obviously be interested in us. Violations of foreign law by Swiss banks may be a breach of Swiss banking regulations such. Requirement to ensure that its business is conducted in an orderly way,” said Tobias Lux, although it would not comment on the case.

Senior adviser and expert in banking, Lars Krull from Aalborg University believes that such lending models may be excellent business for banks, which can often earn more than £ 100,000 per year. customer:

“If they have mortgaged a house for example. 6 million. And leveraged money three times and then make a deal on asset, it can be a great business for the bank. On the other hand, it is also something worse, something if it goes wrong. “

Sydbank did not want to comment on this article.

 

Original Article in Danish Below.

 

Sydbank på skattejagt uden banklicens

Af PETER NYHOLM og JULIE H. TOFT

Offentliggjort 10.01.12 kl. 06:56

Store spanske millionvillaer skulle belånes, for at Sydbank kunne sælge investeringsydelser og hive penge hjem til den schweiziske datterbank.
Foto: HOUGAARD NIELS

Sydbank havde ikke engang en spansk banklicens. Men det forhindrede ikke banken i at indrykke annoncer og betale mellemmænd for at tiltrække formuer fra rige udlændinge bosat i bl.a. Spanien til Sydbank Schweiz med hovedsæde i Alpebyen St. Gallen.

Velhaverne skulle overbevises om det fornuftige i at belåne deres millionvillaer med et lavtforrentet dansk realkreditlån via Nykredit på Kalvebod Brygge i København. Pengene fra lånet blev overført til Sydbank Schweiz, som investerede pengene. Kunderne med bolig i Spanien og Frankrig blev stillet i udsigt, at investeringerne gav et højere afkast, end hvad realkreditlånet kostede i rente. Det kunne altså være en ekstra indtægt.

Men det var reduktion af betaling af arveafgift i Spanien, som var den centrale årsag til belåningsfinten, fremgår det af intern kommunikation fra Sydbank, som Morgenavisen JyllandsPosten har haft adgang til. Ifølge flere kilder med tæt kendskab til schweizisk bankvæsen giver denne fidus kun mening, hvis man kan skjule sin formue bag den schweiziske bankhemmelighed.

For når pengene er placeret i Schweiz, er det kundens ansvar at indberette deres eksistens til de relevante skattemyndigheder.

Arveafgift

Skattedirektør Johnny Schaadt Hansen fra Skats afdeling for Økonomisk Kriminalitet er bestemt ikke imponeret over modellen, hvis den benyttes af danskere med boliger på Solkysten:

“Hvis du f.eks. har to børn hjemme i Danmark, som skal arve et hus i Spanien, der er belånt på den måde, er den reelle værdi af aktivet mindre. Så skal du også betale en arveafgift, der er væsentligt mindre, hvis du ikke har opgivet de penge, som står i et skattely-land,” siger Johnny Schaadt Hansen, der mener, at banken kan blive stillet til ansvar af skat, hvis dens rådgivning har været for aggressiv. Men det kommer an på en konkret vurdering i hvert enkelt tilfælde.

Guldkunder i syd

For Sydbank var det en udmærket måde at trække penge og indtjening til forretningen i Sydbank Schweiz, der fokuserede på velhavende ”private banking kunder”, for det drejede sig ofte om villaer på Solkysten, der var 7-10 mio. kr. værd. Og det giver gode afkast til banken at investere kundernes millionformuer.

Finten blev sat så meget i system, at Sydbank hyrede formidlere eller mellemmænd og betalte dem for at lokke kunder til banken. Der blev også oprettet annoncer, hvor der blev reklameret for, at danskere kunne aktivere deres friværdi, hvis de havde ejendomme i Spanien eller Frankrig. Følgende tekst blev bl.a. brugt i en private banking-annonce henvendt til danskere med ejerbolig i Spanien:

“Ved at belåne din ejendom og investere din friværdi, har du en enestående mulighed for at optimere dine arve- og formueforhold.”

Det skete alt sammen, mens Sydbank ikke havde banklicens til det spanske bankmarked. Det er tilladt at betjene udenlandske kunder, som selv henvender sig til en schweizisk bank, men det er ikke tilladt aktivt at opsøge kunder i lande, hvor man ikke har banklicens. Det var også Sydbanks opfattelse, fremgår det af den interne kommunikation fra Sydbank.

Bl.a. derfor ændrede Sydbank praksis over tid, så den meget aggressive annoncering med reklamer for belåningsfinten blev erstattet af annoncer, hvor man blot reklamerede for Sydbank som brand.

Den danske rådgivende skatterevisor Christen Amby (SF) er ikke overrasket over Sydbanks fremgangsmåde:

“Det er jo den slags manøvrer, som bankerne lever af. De bilder kunderne ind, at de kan tjene penge på en sådan manøvre, og så tjener Sydbank på både at formidle lånet og på at administrere formuen. Men i praksis bliver kunden formentlig fattigere. Kan banken så oven i købet få folk til at tro, at de kan spare skat, herunder snyde for arveafgift i Spanien, så er det helt perfekt.”

Kunder skal oplyse

Christen Amby oplyser, at det først og fremmest er bankens kunder, som bryder loven, hvis de undlader at opgive, at de har en formue stående i Schweiz. For Sydbanks vedkommende bør det fremover fremgå af bankens årsregnskab, at en del af bankens forretningsgrundlag er baseret på at hjælpe kunderne med at snyde i skat, og det er formentlig svært at forene med bankens CSR-politik (Corporate Social Responsibility), mener han. Også selvom det er det spanske skattevæsen, der snydes.

Det schweiziske finanstilsyn FINMA har i en rundskrivelse til landets banker gjort opmærksom på det vigtige i at bevare den schweiziske banksektors omdømme. Heraf fremgår det bl.a. at bankerne “ikke må medvirke til skatteunddragelse og lignende ved indlevering af ufuldstændig eller vildledende dokumentation.”

Talsmand Tobias Lux fra FINMA vil ikke afvise, at banker, der opererer i landet, må hjælpe med skatteoptimering i andre lande. Men, siger han, bankerne skal overholde schweizisk og lokal lovgivning.

“Ligegyldigt, hvor schweiziske banker tilbyder finansielle services, skal de følge schweizisk lovgivning. Derudover skal banken også følge de lokale regler, men generelt er det op til de lokale myndigheder at håndhæve dette. Når det er sagt, kan brud på udenlandsk lovgivning af schweiziske banker også være brud på schweiziske bankregler.”

Krav om ordentlighed

Ifølge Tobias Lux er det ikke nødvendigvis ulovligt, at en bank i landet hjælper udlændinge med skattespekulation. Alligevel er det noget, man vil kigge nærmere på:

“Det vil selvfølgelig interessere os. Brud på udenlandsk lovgivning af schweiziske banker kan være brud på schweiziske bankregler som f.eks. kravet om at sikre, at bankens forretning bliver udført på en ordentlig måde,” siger Tobias Lux, som dog ikke vil kommentere den konkrete sag.

Seniorrådgiver og ekspert i banker Lars Krull fra Aalborg Universitet mener, at sådanne lånemodeller kan være fremragende forretninger for banker, der ofte kan tjene mere end 100.000 kr. om året pr. kunde:

“Hvis de har belånt et hus med f.eks. 6 mio. kr., og gearet pengene tre gange i og derefter laver en aftale om kapitalforvaltning, så kan det være en fantastisk forretning for banken. Til gengæld er det også noget værre noget, hvis det går galt.”

Sydbank har ikke ønsket at kommentere denne artikel.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *