Limitations on the use of bearer shares will come into force in Switzerland on 1 November, when the Federal Act on the Implementation of Recommendations of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes takes effect.
Switzerland has been moving towards the abolition of bearer shares since July 2016, when the OECD’s Global Tax Transparency Forum published its phase 2 peer-review report. This listed various recommendations, accompanied by indications that, if they were not adopted in full, the country would fail its follow-up review at the end of 2018. One of the key recommendations was the need for companies to determine and report their beneficial owners to the authorities, so that they can be traced for tax and anti-money laundering purposes. The existence of bearer shares makes this difficult or impossible.
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