A Brief History Of: Swiss Banks

Erich Hartmann / Magnum

Swiss banks' anonymity and confidentiality have attracted streams of illicit cash from around the world.

Along with Chocolate and Cheese, Switzerland is synonymous with secrecy: it's long been known as a place to put your money if you don't like taxes or you commit crimes for a living. Not an entirely fair characterization, to be sure, but it's a safe bet that the decision by Swiss bank UBS to turn over the names of some accused tax evaders has a few of the world's richest criminals a bit nervous. (See 25 people to blame for the financial crisis.)

Switzerland's tradition of financial discretion goes back at least to the 17th century. In the wake...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!