The Federal Council recently announced its intentions to resume the temporarily suspended Swiss withholding tax reform and set out the general framework to introduce a paying agent tax system with regard to interest payments. However, as the Federal Council's communication did not contain any details, it remains to be seen how the reform will be set out in the draft bill expected in Autumn 2019 and how it will affect paying agents and investors.
The Supreme Court of the Canton of Zurich recently clarified that employers must clearly regulate the private use of work communication devices, as well as any related control mechanisms. Further, data processing such as verifying WhatsApp chat messages – even if the information is stored on a work mobile phone – must be done in accordance with the more restrictive Article 328b of the Code of Obligations.
A key consideration for any investor or rating agency is the insolvency analysis of a securitisation transaction. In this context, the insolvency remoteness of the special purpose vehicle is a decisive element. Another important consideration are the circumstances under which a securitisation transaction may be set aside in the context of an insolvency proceeding. This article focuses on the avoidance actions set out in the federal Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Act.
The Federal Council recently adopted a plan to implement the national strategy to protect Switzerland against cyber risks until 2022 and took additional steps towards the establishment of a cybersecurity competence centre. Work is also underway to develop a cyber-defence campus and strengthen capabilities relating to information acquisition and allocation.
Swiss voters recently approved a new corporate tax reform, which will set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate taxation and secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location. The reform includes a patent box, an R&D super deduction and a notional interest deduction for high-tax cantons. There are also substantial non-tax (revenue-raising) measures and new provisions on social security contributions.
The Federal Council recently launched the consultation process on the preliminary draft of the new Federal Act on the Protection of Minors in respect of Films and Video Games (Youth Protection Act). The Youth Protection Act, which will comprehensively regulate the protection of minors and close existing legislative gaps, is embedded in a complex set of ongoing legal revisions in a national and international context.
Switzerland has no specific securitisation legislation. Therefore, securitisation transactions are subject to the general legal framework that applies to all other financial transactions with respect to, among others, both corporate law and regulatory matters. This article provides a short overview of certain company-related aspects to consider when setting up a special purpose vehicle structure for a securitisation transaction in Switzerland.
The Federal Supreme Court recently ruled that internet access providers are not liable for third-party websites and portals that make movies available for illegal downloading or streaming. Further, internet access providers are not obliged to monitor or block access to such websites and portals.
The Federal Council recently announced its intention to create a cybersecurity competence centre to provide a one-stop national point of contact for all cybersecurity issues. The plan is a response to requests from Parliament and the business community and is a step towards implementing Switzerland's national strategy for protecting against cyber risks.
The Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently relaxed its practice under which bonds that are issued by foreign resident issuers, but guaranteed by their Swiss resident parent company, are requalified as domestic issuances which trigger Swiss withholding tax on interest payments. The revised rules significantly increase the permissible use of proceeds in Switzerland.
In June 2018 the Federal Council issued a preliminary draft of the new Electronic Media Act (EMA), which aims to ensure that media content continues to meet high journalistic standards following profound changes in media use over the past decade. This article explores the highlights of the pre-draft EMA, which will replace the current Federal Act on Radio and Television.
The Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently published the 2019 safe haven interest rates to be used on intra-group loans. Against this backdrop, this article provides an overview of the relevant Swiss tax rules associated with determining whether intra-group financing constitutes equity or debt for tax purposes and the consequences of each characterisation.
The Swiss securitisation market is highly active and attractive for both issuers and investors. However, Switzerland has not enacted any specific securitisation legislation. Therefore, securitisation transactions are subject to the general legal framework that applies to any other type of financial transaction. This article provides a short overview of several regulatory aspects to consider when setting up a securitisation transaction in Switzerland.
The Federal Council recently adopted a new open government data strategy for providing the public with free access to government data. From 2020 onwards, all government data will gradually be made available for free and in a computer-friendly format. The strategy aims to strengthen transparency, accountability and innovation. With a centralised source of information and appropriate support for data users such as researchers and creators, Switzerland will remain an important innovative hub.
In the context of the bill on the Federal Act on Tax Reform and AHV Financing, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently announced that, as of 1 January 2019, it will abstain from granting rulings which safeguard the tax privileges of new principal companies and finance branches. Existing rulings for these regimes will no longer be valid after 1 January 2020 as part of the overall Swiss tax reform.
The Swiss securitisation market has developed steadily and successfully in recent years, attracting various issuers for both private and public transactions. Many of these issuers have become constant issuers on the Swiss market, which remains active and driven by the still low (or negative) interest environment. Specifically, recent notable activity has concerned auto-lease assets and credit cards, mortgage assets and the asset-backed security market environment.
The Federal Council recently adopted a new Digital Switzerland strategy for the next two years. The new strategy replaces the 2016 strategy and, like its predecessor, aims to prioritise the government's efforts in the digital realm. The new strategy places a stronger focus on initiatives relating to artificial intelligence and smart cities, smart villages and smart regions. It also addresses topics ranging from digitalisation in the transport and energy sectors to e-government and cyber risks.
The Swiss Parliament has approved the revised version of Tax Proposal 17, a proposal for corporate tax reform. The new proposal aims to set the basis for new rules on Swiss corporate tax (the last proposal having been rejected in a nationwide referendum) and secure and enhance Switzerland's overall attractiveness as a business location.
The Federal Office for National Economic Supply recently published the Minimum Standard for Improving ICT Resilience, together with a self-assessment tool. Compliance with this standard should allow organisations to successfully fend off cyberattacks and mitigate cyber-risks. The standard follows a similar structure to the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework.
In a recent press release, the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom), jointly with the Federal Office of Communications (OfCom), launched the 5G radio frequency awards process. On behalf of ComCom, OfCom will auction several frequency spectrum blocs, which will be licenced for 15 years. These frequencies are important for the introduction of 5G technology in Switzerland and similar auction processes have already taken place or are under way in other jurisdictions.