Tag Archive: Switzerland

How to Rob a Bank (or a Whole Country), Part I

William Black is a former bank regulator who’s seen firsthand how banking systems can be used to commit fraud — and how “liar’s loans” and other tricky tactics led to the 2008 US banking crisis that threatened the international economy. In this engaging talk, Black reveals the best way to rob a bank — from the inside.
[you can watch the video here…]

Recipe: Engage Anglo-saxon management and allow the virus of corporate greed to spread freely. Switzerland’s second largest bank, Credit Suisse, has been fined more than $ 2.6 billion (CHF 2.3 billion) after pleading guilty to criminal charges of helping United States clients to evade taxes, and its top management stay in place!

Responsible for the record fine, Brady Dougan claims to be innocent… shareholders will pay the bill!

The US has found ways to milk other countries while our hypocritical politicians proclaim that they did a good job. Or why else would the Swiss government and the country’s financial sector welcome the resolution between Credit Suisse and the United States? “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite” – every country has the government it deserves (Joseph de Maistre, 1811)

Classe politique

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who said at a public event this week that the three EU countries Italy, Bulgaria and Romania had become “essentially ungovernable”. It is a rare occasion as politicians speak out a truth, and of course the co-ordinated outrage of the hypocrites followed shortly after:
Oettinger under fire over comments that Italy, Bulgaria and Romania are ‘ungovernable’

To be fair I have to mention that Switzerland has its own scandals. In recent days, Johann Schneider-Ammann, the Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs, has become the target of criticism for the tax dealings of the Ammann Group in Langenthal, the company he led between 1987 and 2010. From 1999 to 2010, Schneider-Ammann served in the National Council, the lower chamber of the Swiss parliament. He only gave up control of the Ammann Group when he became a member of the Swiss Federal Council, the federal cabinet, as Minister of Economic Affairs in 2010. The Ammann Group set up offshore schemes to evade–or avoid–taxation in Switzerland. In 1976, the Ammann Group founded Manilux SA, a financial holding corporation, in Luxemburg. In 1996, they founded another financial subsidiary, Jerfin Ltd., on the Channel island of Jersey. Schneider-Ammann himself was listed as the chief of Manilux which had neither employees nor offices in Luxemburg, nor elsewhere, even though 250 million Swiss Francs were invested there. Manilux and Jerfin were dissolved in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and the funds transferred first to Jersey and then back to Switzerland.

While many corporations set up much more sophisticated tax avoidance schemes with a more complex web of subsidiaries in numerous jurisdictions, this is a textbook example for how offshore works. “Optimizing” tax liabilities becomes part of what corporate leaders do in order to increase profits or just to remain competitive. So why did revelations about the business practices of their Minister of Economic Affairs create such a stir in Switzerland to the point that some demand his resignation? The question is not just whether Mr. Schneider-Ammann’s tax schemes were legal but whether a corporate leader who actively pursued offshore strategies to avoid paying corporate taxes in Switzerland can be a trusted guardian of the common good and more specifically is fit to be its Minister of Economic Affairs.