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The U.S.-Sweden I.G.A.: A Practitioner's Perspective

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Sweden recently entered into an intergovernmental agreement (“I.G.A.”) with the U.S. to address the application of F.A.T.C.A. to Swedish financial institutions. The subsequent modifications to Swedish law to accommodate the I.G.A. were made public on August 11, 2014 in a proposal by the Ministry of Finance. The proposal added numerous modifications to the requirements for compliance and published the reporting forms that will be due starting next year. The complexity of F.A.T.C.A. compliance will trigger a number of changes in many areas of Swedish legislation, which are likely to be approved by the Swedish Parliament in the fall of 2014. It is clear that F.A.T.C.A. will make life more complex for the regulated groups.

F.A.T.C.A. will have a broad, sweeping effect on Swedish financial institutions (“F.I.’s”), including large Swedish banks, insurance companies, and private equity companies. These F.I.’s have been planning for F.A.T.C.A. and have implemented technology, procedures, and training that have caused them to incur in significant costs. However, based on personal experience, it appears that there is a large group of “institutions” that do not understand that they are in fact F.I.’s and must act accordingly. Recently, when discussing due diligence procedures mandated by F.A.T.C.A. with management of a Swedish permanent establishment, the response was simply “thanks for the heads up,” which indicated that the compliance requirements were not yet on the company’s radar.

Some of these institutions may revert to the simplest solution – barring Americans from being accepted as investors or account holders. This solution, however, is suboptimal for an F.I. as it eliminates a large group of Swedish/U.S. dual citizens from the client base. Of greater importance is the fact that barring Americans does not mean an institution can ignore F.A.T.C.A. F.A.T.C.A. requires disclosure of U.S.-controlled foreign entities that may be account holders at these institutions, a task that will require creating new on-boarding procedures and a review of all preexisting accounts.