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Old 16.05.2011, 21:28
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Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

An old friend, who lives in a country which is rapidly approaching a serious crisis, has asked if I can open a bank account on his behalf in Switzerland.

He is not resident here, and is not likely to be any time soon.

Impossible? Alternatives? Lost cause?
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Old 16.05.2011, 21:30
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

Nothing to stop you from opening eg a Postfinance account with E-Finance and letting him operate it with the proper credentials.
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Old 16.05.2011, 21:39
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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An old friend, who lives in a country which is rapidly approaching a serious crisis, has asked if I can open a bank account on his behalf in Switzerland.

He is not resident here, and is not likely to be any time soon.

Impossible? Alternatives? Lost cause?
I would have thought that the bank would need to satisfy the necessary "Know Your Customer" legislation. If they don't actually meet the guy then this may be difficult. If they did agree then you would probably need a certified copy of his passport etc. But I honestly don't know if they would allow it.
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Old 16.05.2011, 21:44
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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Nothing to stop you from opening eg a Postfinance account with E-Finance and letting him operate it with the proper credentials.
Or cashing out when the account reaches a reasonable balance. ;-)

I would expect that if you open an account in your own name for the friend, you'll be in contravention of Swiss Money Laundering laws. The banks have an obligation to identify their clients, and by operating an account on someone else's behalf you'd be preventing that.

Otherwise, if you're looking to walk into a bank and open an account in someone else's name, you'll face a couple of hurdles, including the minimum balance. But with enough money, anything's possible.

Edit: Mikey beat me to it.
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Old 16.05.2011, 22:12
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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But with enough money, anything's possible.
That'll be a no, then.

Thank you all for your comments. I just really needed something to back me up when I write the dreaded email back.

I wish there was something I could do to help.
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Old 16.05.2011, 22:48
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

If he can get a copy of his passport/id authenticated by a notary in his country, then he can apply for an international private client account at most Swiss banks.
(No minimum deposit required.)

I would shop around though a bit, as the account maintenance fees are up to several hundred CHFs for non-residents, for example at Credit Suisse.

I would start with:

Postfinance
Raiffeisenbank
Coop Bank
Migros Bank
Zuercher Kantonalbank
Berner Kantonalbank
etc.

They probably have lower maintenance fees than UBS, CS & co. and are all backed up by state guarantee.

Hope that helps your friend.
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Old 16.05.2011, 22:59
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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An old friend, who lives in a country which is rapidly approaching a serious crisis, has asked if I can open a bank account on his behalf in Switzerland.

He is not resident here, and is not likely to be any time soon.

Impossible? Alternatives? Lost cause?
I'm sure it is possible... if all the ads in international news magazines are to be believed ("we open swiss bank accounts" etc)

Just dont put down Gadhafi as the account holder's name and you'll be fine ...
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Old 16.05.2011, 23:18
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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I just really needed something to back me up when I write the dreaded email back.

I wish there was something I could do to help.
I very much suspect that you could open an account IF there is a Swiss consulate in your friend's country that can notarize a photocopy of his passport. I very much doubt that a Swiss bank would accept notarization from a local (non-Swiss) official.

If you plan to go the PostFinance route do not go to your local post office; in my experience they are an unending font of misinformation for foreigners. Go to a real PostFinance office. Does not need to be in a big city; when I went to the Sion office they were totally clueless but had the right number to call.
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Old 16.05.2011, 23:25
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

Quote:
An old friend, who lives in a country which is rapidly approaching a serious crisis, has asked if I can open a bank account on his behalf in Switzerland.

He is not resident here, and is not likely to be any time soon.

Impossible? Alternatives? Lost cause?
I suggested that a Greek friend do the same thing. If you're gonna panic, panic first!

And yes, you can do it. Just go to a bank and get the form, you'll see what they will need to do this.
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Old 16.05.2011, 23:38
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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I very much suspect that you could open an account IF there is a Swiss consulate in your friend's country that can notarize a photocopy of his passport. I very much doubt that a Swiss bank would accept notarization from a local (non-Swiss) official.
If your friend lives in a country which is party to the Hague convention he will be able to get an apostille for his passport copy, and any Swiss bank will accept an apostilled passport copy as proof of identity (although a notary alone might be sufficient). As to whether that's enough to open a bank acount, I'm afraid I'm less help, except that I would say the bigger banks are a better bet - their KYC may be strict but if the funds are legit they will be more used to this kind of situation than e.g. kantonalbanks - why not just go in and ask at Credit Suisse? I bet they have a special form for this very situation... All kantonalbanks are supposed to operate for the benefit of locals, and Migros bank and the like have no need to offer this service. They just won't have the KYC systems in place to deal with unusual but not improper account openings.

On the subject of just going in and asking, why not ask if you can accept funds from your friend - I can't imagine its verboten! Of course, you may be question if 30,000CHF turns up form nowhere, but there's nothing illegal about receiving white money to hold on a friends behalf. You would just have to demonstrate that it was white money (and your friend would have to trust you). If you warn of the money coming in, don't just pass it through (which looks very much like money laundering, obviously) but hold it for a month or more, and are able to describe its source (even if it's just as "salary" or "fees") they will probably be fine.

Really, I think it is possible for you to help your friend (though it may involve a little effort).

Last edited by RobM; 16.05.2011 at 23:40. Reason: No need to apostille an original passport...
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Old 16.05.2011, 23:56
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

Opening a French account is possible without living their of having piles of cash. Or does your friend live in France at the moment?
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Old 17.05.2011, 09:39
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

From my experience it works like this. Your friend has to attend at the bank that you have identified as being workable to open a non swiss resident bank account and he needs his passport. He signs all the papers and he is aware of all the terms, otherwise you will get yourself in a right buggers muddle when he tells you you didnt explain all the terms.
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Old 17.05.2011, 10:03
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

I'm sure your friend can open an account, it just might depend on how much you're talking about and thus how interested the bank is in it. I have a friend in private banking, working specifically with Irish customers in Ireland, and he has gained a lot of clients in recent times with all the uncertainty there. None of them are resident in CH.

Again, depending on the amount and what he wants to do with it, you might also consider a joint bank account with him, if you are comfortable with that. I'm sure there is some set-up that will work. One caveat, assume your friend does not have US citizenship, then it could be a completely different story.

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I would have thought that the bank would need to satisfy the necessary "Know Your Customer" legislation.
That sounds like US legislation, not Swiss.
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Old 17.05.2011, 10:11
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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That sounds like US legislation, not Swiss.
Art. 3 Verification of the identity of the customer

1 When establishing a business relationship, the financial intermediary must verify the identity of the customer on the basis of a document of evidentiary value. Where the customer is a legal entity, the financial intermediary must acknowledge the provisions regulating the power to bind the legal entity, and verify the identity of the persons who enter into the business relationship on behalf of the legal entity.1

[...]
Art. 4 Establishing the identity of the beneficial owner

1 The financial intermediary must obtain a written declaration from the customer indicating who the beneficial owner is if:
a.the customer is not the beneficial owner or if there is any doubt about the matter;b.the customer is a domiciliary company;c.a cash transaction of considerable financial value in terms of Article 3 paragraph 2 is being carried out.[...]


http://www.admin.ch/ch/e/rs/955_0/a3.html
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Old 17.05.2011, 10:21
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

Uncle Bertrand needing a new slush fund?
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Old 17.05.2011, 10:26
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

Quote:
An old friend, who lives in a country which is rapidly approaching a serious crisis, has asked if I can open a bank account on his behalf in Switzerland.

He is not resident here, and is not likely to be any time soon.

Impossible? Alternatives? Lost cause?
It is not possible to just go to the counter and give your address saying it's his address?

Who verified?
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Old 17.05.2011, 10:40
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

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It is not possible to just go to the counter and give your address saying it's his address?

Who verified?
Fraud then. Great. DB, you heard it here first.
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Old 17.05.2011, 13:10
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

The legal way would be to get him to open a bank account and then have a power of attorney signed on his bank account so you could operate it. Otherwise you may need a power of attorney first and then open the bank account. I'd ask any lawyer friends you have/the Internet and then check with the bank.
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Old 17.05.2011, 13:12
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

This all sounds very complicated - and only a mug would trust me with his money!

I think I'll help him to find a bank, but apart from that, I'd rather not get involved with joint accounts and suchlike.

Thank you for the suggestions, though.
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Old 17.05.2011, 15:47
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Re: Opening a bank account on a non-CH resident's behalf

Quote:
That'll be a no, then.

Thank you all for your comments. I just really needed something to back me up when I write the dreaded email back.

I wish there was something I could do to help.
Can he just come for a visit and open a bank account here? Then "something" came up and he had to leave...
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