A Credit Suisse’s inquiry into its collapse has chosen to maintain file secrecy for 50 years, sparking concern among Swiss historians. According to a parliamentary committee document, the parliamentary investigation aims to preserve confidentiality by extending the protection period from the usual 30 years to 50 years, amidst intense public interest in the issue.
This investigation holds particular significance as it delves into the actions of the Swiss government, financial regulator, and central bank leading up to UBS’s emergency takeover of Credit Suisse in March.
It is the country’s fifth modern historical investigation, with the committee of lawmakers wielding considerable power, authorized to summon state bodies, including the Swiss cabinet and finance ministry.
The strategy paper outlining the communication policy confirms the 50-year restriction on file access after the investigation concludes.
“After the completion of the investigation, the files shall be handed over to the Federal Archives and shall be subject to an extended protection period of 50 years,” the committee stated in a strategy paper outlining its communication policy.
The Swiss parliament has refrained from commenting on the matter so far, according to Reuters.
However, the Swiss Society for History has raised valid concerns. Sacha Zala, the society’s president, communicates with commission head Isabelle Chassot, advocating for accessibility to the Credit Suisse files for future researchers.
Zala has underscored the files’ potential value in scientifically investigating the 2023 banking crisis.
“Should researchers want to scientifically investigate the 2023 banking crisis, access to the CS files would be invaluable,” Zala wrote, according to the newspaper.
Despite this concern, the committee has emphasized confidentiality, vowing to maintain secrecy during its proceedings, which could involve interviews with bankers. All participants, including commission members and interviewees, are bound by strict confidentiality rules. The committee has also warned that any indiscretions may jeopardize its work, tarnish its credibility, and adversely affect the Swiss financial center.
The decision to preserve files for half a century appears at the first sight to be driven by the interest to protect sensitive information and maintain the integrity of the investigation. However, it has made historians worried as such extended secrecy might hinder academic research and limit the public’s access to essential historical insights into the financial crisis. The balance between confidentiality and historical accountability remains a critical concern as the investigation unfolds.