Wegelin ends with a whimper

The Wegelin saga has reached its conclusion with a somewhat unexpected guilty plea:

Switzerland’s oldest bank is to close permanently after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping Americans evade their taxes.

Wegelin, which was established in 1741, has also agreed to pay $57.8m (£36m; 44m euros) in fines to US authorities.

It said that once this was completed, it “will cease to operate as a bank”.

The bank had admitted to allowing more than 100 American citizens to hide $1.2bn from the Internal Revenue Service for almost 10 years.

The Swiss banking industry seems decidedly rattled by the plea and by what the Wegelin partners have said, as demonstrated by this commentary:


Brazil, Russia, Turkey stock trading through Swissquote

Swissquote is now in the stock broker directory. This is a somewhat unusual firm, being an online execution-only broker that attempts to add on some of the flexibility that a traditional Swiss private bank provides for broker-assisted dealing.

This means that it will trade a fairly wide range of exchanges that are unusual among European retail stock brokers. If you want this kind of choice in one place, you’re normally talking about a minimum account size in the high net worth individual range. The international stock trading options include Brazil, Japan’s Osaka Stock Exchange (most firms only offer Tokyo), Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and many others.

The snag is that Swissquote is doing this through intermediaries and hence it’s not cheap. You’re talking CHF200-400 (US$200-400) minimum commission for most of these. So frequent trading in most of these markets is going to be impractical for most retail clients. But it could be useful for investors who want to make the occasional long-term investment in these markets.