Offshore Banking FAQ

What is a Numbered account?

The term “numbered account” has changed its meaning in last couple of decades, however it still exists and it is possible to open a numbered account. Until 1992, it was possible for an attorney to open a Swiss bank account on behalf of a client, without revealing the client's identity to the bank. It means that the bank did not know the beneficial owner of the money.

The similar practice continued in Liechtenstein until 1999, and also in Austria and other selected jurisdictions customers were offered the option to open numbered bank accounts. As international pressure and anti-money laundering requirements grew tighter, it is no more possible to open an offshore bank account where the offshore bank does not know the identity of the beneficial owner. However, it is still possible to open a numbered bank account where an account name is substituted by a combination of letters and numbers instead of a real name of the account holder. The most popular offshore jurisdiction for numbered accounts is Switzerland. Most offshore bank employees have no idea whom numbered accounts belong to. The identity of the account holder is only known to the senior management of the offshore bank.