SUISSE DE DEFENSE DES INVESTISSEURS
ASSOCIAZIONE SVIZZERA DI DIFESA DEGLI INVESTITORI
SWISS INVESTORS PROTECTION ASSOCIATION
box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2 - Switzerland - t+f: +4122-7400362
e-mail: email@example.com- Internet: http://www.solami.com/gold.htm
ASDI:Association Suisse de Défense des Investisseurs; SIPA: Swiss Investors Protection Association.INTRODUCTION
Von den über 50 ASDI-Gründungsmitgliedern - indiv. Investoren, Treuhänder, Juristen, Bank- und Börsenfachleuten, eidg. Parlamentariern und dem Schweiz. Gewerbeverband - haben unter dem Vorsitz des Genfer Jean-Jacques Griessen u.a. folgende Personen aktiv an den Arbeiten des ASDI-Komitees teilgenommen: Ali Al-Zoubaidy, Adnane Beldjelti, Bernard Curiens, Nicolas von Deschwanden, Louis Dormignes, Guido Poulin, Alain de Jens, André Schneider. Nach dem - mit der Barschel-Affäre zusammenhängenden und damit weiterhin ungeklärten - mysteriösen Tod von Jean-Jacques Griessen in Zürich, hat der CERN-Mitbegründer Jean Mussard das ASDI-Präsidium übernommen [und seit dessen Ableben wird die Präsidialfunktion interimistisch von Harry-Ernst Wiler von Rickenbach weitergeführt]. Das Sekretariat obliegt dem ASDI-Mitbegründer und Redaktor Anton Keller.
Bisherige Arbeitsschwerpunkte umfassen u.a.
- die Verhinderung des Zusatzabkommens zum schweizerisch-französischen Doppelbesteuerungs-Abkommen, der OECD/Europarats Amtshilfekonvention in Steuersachen, sowie des LBO RJR Nabisco bis zur Sicherstellung der Schweizer Nabisco-Obligationäre,
- die Mitwirkung im Gläubigerausschuss des Sasea-Konkursfalles, sowie in Y2K-Ausschüssen,
- die Bekämpfung der den Schweizer Traditionen, Interessen und Rechten zuwiderlaufenden lex americana, der Financial Action Task Force, der Fusion SBV-SBG, sowie des Qualified Intermediary Abkommens mit der amerikanischen IRS,
- die Angleichung der Amts- und Rechtshilfepraxis an die geltenden Abkommen mit den USA,
- die Verbesserung der Schweizer Bankenaufsicht,
- die Entkriminalisierung des Marktes und der Gesellschaft, sowie die Verwirklichun von Glasnost,
- die Rückbesinnung auf nachhaltige & zukunfts-sichernde Werte, Prinzipien & Finanzpraktiken und
- die Herbeiführung einer politisch kritischen Masse für eine Neuabstützung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft auf eine eigenständige & auch selbstkritische Analyse der eingetretenen Fehlentwicklungen, auf eine Realwert-Währung, und auf eine zukunftsweisende lex helvetica.,
- die Bekämpfung des CH/USA-Ukase zur Auslieferung von UBS-Bankdaten an die USA, und
- die Unterbindung der rechtswidrigen, unwürdigen und für Schweizer Bankiers, Anwälte und Treuhänder bedrohlichen Auslieferung Polanskis an die USA.
Schweizerische Interessen, NZZ-Inserat, Trumpf Buur, 26.3.88
Phone tapping, myopically accomodating hidden agendas, alien laws and foreign judges, and letting fester both some claims related to WW2 bank deposits and some stealthily outsourced and absorbed Nazi assets (IG Farben) did not bode well. Neither for the Swiss banking industry as a whole, nor for the UBS/SBC mega Swiss bank merger in particular [which however, 8 years later, appears to turn out better than expected].
To be sure, the growing headaches experienced by Swiss bankers, fiduciaries and related professionals have been mostly home-grown. At least in as much as they have grown in an environment of nearly perfected mediocrity, coupled with an ever-more society-permeating compliance mentality with regard to whatever bureaucrats here and there may decide is in society's, the market and their own interest. As trustees of the citizens of the world, they have inherited a unique, globally envied and obligeing goodwill. To which they grew accustomed, with many of them, over an extended post WWII period, not needing or even maintaining the capacity to effectively fight for their clients and achievements. What was projected as noble restraint in fact often only covered up lack of vision and confusion of mere flat earth arrogance with genuine authority - if not sheer incompetence. They not only failed to join or support the battles against, but even facilitated the ever more arrogant onslaughts of unelected out-of-control international bureaucrats and their unconstitutional lawmaking - with correspondingly self-inflicted long-term damages. This, at least, has been the case with such recent fiscal aberrations as the OECD's tax harmonzation initiatives and the IRS' QI (Qualified Intermediary) agreements. Thus they have often been successful less because than despite of themselves. And their public growling - like the widely applauded frontpage outcry in a professional newspaper "Satellization of Switzerland?" - would be more credible and have a better chance of being heeded by the political decision-makers here and there, if its authors had not, during decades, turned their back to related alarm signals. If they, too started in earnest to put their money where their mouth is. And if they thus would be rightly suspected - if not seen - to be fighting on the side of tax competition, fiscal sovereignty and genuine privacy, i.e. in the vanguard of protecting their clients and Swiss taxpayers from foreign fiscal aggressions facilitated by - of all places - the OECD, its FATF and its other anti-enterpreneurial outgrowths.
As to our own initial analysis and predictions on the UBS - and assuming that none of the bizarre gold and other tales who emerged so far from the Balkans, Italy, the Near & Far East and South Africa, will ever check out or grow beyond the US$ 1.25 billion Settlement Agreement of 26 January 1999 -, we have no problem admitting that we may have goofed (subscribing, as we do, to what we consider a major progress factor, i.e. the new/old human right to error which, however, is inseparably linked to the obligation to admit error).
Drawing on a generation of active investor protection experiences, we have arrived at these conclusions through such seemingly unrelated events as Interhandel, Rees-Bericht, Interfipol, Haile Selassie, Reza Palehvi, Ferdinand Marcos, Santa Fe, RJR Nabisco, Sasea, Rinderknecht, Swissair, etc. Most of these events are seen to be linked to a few but influential Swiss bankers and their myopically self-serving - and now badly back-firing - neglect of fundamental principles and promotion of lex americana universalis.
Interestingly, that also points to some real remedies in harmony with the fundamentals. Like the Pillory, i.e. the Internet's most peculiar debt exchange and e-commerce site. Thus legitimate claimants - and not only victims of recent historical wrongs - might effectively turn the table on their solvent debtors, whatever their names and sizes, e.g. the successors to Czarist Russia, to Nazi Germany's IG Farben assets, etc.
by Jean Mussard, President,
Investors Protection Association, Geneva
published as the Wall Street Journal's "longest letter ever" 12 April 1988
Your recent editorial "Spooking Switzerland?" (March 25-26) on the impending Swiss insider law stated: "A massive Orwellian monitoring and investigatory apparatus is the logical, even inevitable, requirement of the [lex Americana] kind of law Switzerland has passed." That, of course, holds also true for other countries willing to apply American standards and laws on their own soil.
So far, only West German bankers have successfully resisted the bureaucratic plain-levelling pressures emanating from Washington, Brussels and even from the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Relying on voluntary self-regulation measures, they thus spare themselves and their clients the risks entailed in the ill-considered criminalization of yet another blown-up and ill-defined market abuse.
In this wider context of self-inflicted market wounds and a looming insider quagmire, something even more surprising was disclosed by the Basler Zeitung on March 31: It's not only the governments who increasingly keep a watchful ear on their residents' telecommunications. The comprehensive surveillance and information needs created and facilitated by the SEC-inspired insider laws can easily be covered by privately held high-capacity telephone monitoring systems. In the case of Switzerland, these systems will even be run by the big Swiss banks themselves under cover of PTT licenses used for answering machines. What's more, these systems are already mostly in place and operational, according to the Basler Zeitung.
Of course, the orally-run foreign exchange market, involving transactions of up to $300 billion a day (on a global basis), has given rise to a comprehensive recording of all related telephone communications. According to a spokesman of the Union Bank of Switzerland, its Geneva offices at present have some 400 telephone lines permanently on tapes for this security purpose. All banks directly participating in the foreign exchange market are said to maintain such professional recording systems of which more than 30 reportedly are installed in Swiss banks, covering more than 10,000 telephone lines. The resultant tapes are usually stored, which entails the risk of their detrimental use and - apparently overlooked, so far - of such tapes being subpoenaed in legal proceedings.
Until now, this massive recording seems to have caused no major technical or legal problem. With new high-performance equipment just entering the market and with digital telephone centrals with comprehensive, even remotely-controlled capabilities already being tested, the recording and storing of telephone conversations seems to have become a routine, escaping most people's attention and concern. The Volkswagen foreign exchange debacle may now become the first case where the data thus stored will serve to enlighten criminal investigators from abroad. With the insider law eventually in place, the SEC will be in a position to "convince" Swiss bankers to deliver on the promises contained in the Swiss-American Memorandum of Understanding of November 10, 1987, by availing their monitoring equipment and archives for accelerated insider investigations. Judging from past cases of myopic Swiss readiness to yield to U.S. pressures, the Swiss government will be glad to routinely facilitate the data flow the Swiss lawmakers unwittingly provided for but never intended.
As to the legality of this intrusion of privacy of unsuspecting bank clients, the official telephone directory published by the Swiss PTT discloses under the heading "Pick-up sign":
One of them, Dr.Peter Hefti of the govering coalition, has publicly expressed the view that any massive recording and storing of telecommunication data [like the then-planned extention of the surveillance capacity to 20,000 lines) would be "incompatible with the libertarian principles underlying Swiss society." In his parliamentary question of March 18, Dr. Hefti also asked the government about the extent to which the technical possibilities for systematic surveillance and analysis of telecommunications are presently "exploited from within Switzerland and from abroad with regard to messages exchanged between Swiss banks and lawyers and their foreign clients?" Those concerned about individual liberties and truly reliable and discreet Swiss services were not exactly reassured by the facts disclosed by the Basler Zeitung. Yet in the interest of the numerous Swiss bank clients everywhere, we are confident that both the Swiss bankers and the Swiss government will not fail to provide in time fully satisfactory answers.
In any case, clients of Swiss banks, for reasons of principle, too, may not accept the risk, however remote, that their telephone conversations with their bankers could one day be used against themselves or third parties. And they may not contend themselves with any assurances which are not promptly backed up by corresponding deeds. Clearly, criminalizing remaining liberties and helping to pierce Swiss banking secrecy ever more readily and rapidly on ever less real grounds will only feed the bureaucracy. Swiss bankers still have a chance to convince their clients that they really mean to protect their clients' privacy - by using their economic and political clout for getting the insider law before the Swiss voters. Failing that the technical and legal infrastructure playing into the hands of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other foreign snoops will grow into a Trojan Horse in the Swiss bankers' own backyard.
Editor's post scriptum (24 January 1998):
1. The "Pick-up sign" disappeared in the entry of most banks in the subsequently published telephone books, raising questions of the legality of the routine telephone monitoring by banks, particularly with today's coming into force of a revised penal code art. 179 (Leonardo Cereghetti, Patrick Umbach, "Heikle Aufnahme von Telephongesprächen - Handlungsbedarf bei Banken und Brokern", NZZ 30.Dezember 1997; Yves Lassueur, "Ecoutes illégales dans nos banques", Le Matin, 13 janvier 1998).
2. Following publication of the above SIPA letter in the Wall Street Journal, the pressure for disclosing the full extent of governmental and private eaves-dropping in Switzerland grew rapidly and seems to have contributed to the discovery of illegal telephone and other surveillance practices involving some 900,000 Swiss residents - one of Switzerland's biggest political scandals. After being given the opportunity, during some 5 years, to check one's own surveillance files (and how huge amounts of taxpayers' money were thus squandered - often with highly questionable motives, means and results), the Swiss Citizen generally is seen to have only partially regained confidence in the institutions charged with safeguarding his/her safety and welfare. Things were supposed to become more transparent and otherwise improve with the privatisation of Switzerland's telecom which, since 1 January 1998, has operated in competition with other service providers as a de-monopolized private company under the name ofSWISSCOM.
3. Thus was touched a more-than-ever sensitive cord when the Sonntagszeitung of 28 December 1997 revealed that SWISSCOM has also taken over a clandestinely implanted system providing for an apparently unauthorized massive monitoring and storing of telecommunications data on users of mobile phones. This was not exactly helped when, under the weight of public reactions, the fig-leave wide justification invoked (billing purposes) was later complemented by prophylactic and therapeutic police purposes. And when the end-of-the-year big bank letters sent to some if its local clients informed them that, for some years now, their calls to their bank may have been taped and stored for security purposes for some six months. It would be interesting to find out if and, in the event, on what legal basis any of these tapes actually found their way to local and/or foreign law enforcement officials. Well yes, we finally left the annus horribilis Orwell+13 behind us but, having apparently lost our will and/or our capacity to keep in check those charged with serving rather than spying on and controlling the only sovereign there should be, i.e. the upright Citizen, he/she will henceforth, too get what he/she deserves.
Anton Keller, Secretary,
Investors Protection Association
box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2 - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - 17 May 1996
U.S. Senator Alfonso D'Amato's moral outrages are in a category of their own: In April 1991, he shamed his triumphant co-religionaire George Bush into the still on-going humanitarian emercency operation "Provide Comfort" - after cynical George went fishing instead of stopping Saddam's surviving henchmen from slaughtering the Kurds (Andrew Stephen, "George casts his phoney morals away", Observer,7 April 1991). And 5 years later, over the issue of disappeared bank accounts of Jewish Nazi victims, the valiant Senator shamed some Swiss bankers and officials into such a pitiful role that even Saddam's victims - i.e. the Assyrians, Kurds and Turkomen surviving in the safe haven of Northern Iraq over which both Baghdad and the UN maintain an embargo - felt obliged to show solidarity with these Jewish families by coming to their rescue with an ingenious, mutually beneficial offer involving their own ancestral land and huge petroleum resources.
The hearings recently
held by the Senate Banking
Committee under the chairmanship of
Senator D'Amato gave an opportunity to representatives
of the Swiss banking community to explain what happened
to the now-orphaned deposits made by Nazi victims whose families
were unable to adequately document their claims. Estimates of such
deposits have ranged from some tens of millions to over one billion
dollars. The Swiss banking community, Swiss legislators and the Swiss
Government, no doubt, have made due diligence efforts to locate
and facilitate the return of these deposits to their legal owners.
Yet, while some maintain that all was done which could have been
done, others are not satisfied and insist that much more can and
still needs to be done.
In 1946, Switzerland concluded an agreement with France, Great Britain and the United States. Reportedly, it provided both for the transfer into Allied hands of the funds which, during World War II, were deposited by Germans in Swiss banks (SFR 50 to 125 mio), and for the restitution to the countries concerned of some SFR 250 mio worth of gold which Nazi Germany had stolen in the countries it had invaded and which it had placed in Swiss banks (Roger de Diesbach, Pascal Fleury, "Et si les fonds juifs déposés en Suisse se trouvaient déjà… aux Etats-Unis?", La Liberté‚ 2 May 1996). Reportedly, in return for some political favors, only the U.S. benefited from that agreement, while the much bigger Nazi gold snatch from France - as well as paintings and other valuables which had found their way to Switzerland - remained a point of discord.
In 1962, based on an urgent decree by the Federal Council, a first systematic search among the Swiss banks - but not including the lawyers and other fiduciaries - produced unclaimed deposits totalling some 11 million Swiss francs (U.S.$ 9 mio). For most observers and parties concerned, this result was less than satisfactory. Essentially unresolved, the problem has lingered on as a dark spot on Heidyland. Moreover, the general 10-year time limit to the obligation to keep records, formally, is seen not to apply to even long-dormant accounts for as long as the money in the account was not eaten up by the costs for its maintenance. Recently, a new search - again not extending to fiduciaries - produced another "paltry" SFR 39 mio.
Essentially, the individual Jewish families concerned have been left on their own with their often difficult-to-document claims. Some of them also found themselves confronted with less-than-helpful attitudes when seeking information on the whereabouts of the suspected hidden Swiss assets of their exterminated relatives. Indeed, the anti-semitic atmosphere of much of pre-war and war-time Switzerland still haunts some banking halls, and many policies, dealings and links are still tabu. In fairness to Swiss bankers, while the guilty conscience of some of them may give the present and future generations of this generally noble species an added incentive to demonstrate real concern for client problems, it isn't helpful to expect them to perform impossible tasks, such as furnishing proof of the non-existence of an account. This being said, and given the special circumstances and roles Swiss banks, institutions and personalities played before, during and after World War II in relation to Germany, Allies and Nazi victims, a more forthcoming, cooperative and imaginative way to handle this delicate issue was not inconceivable. And it could still do a world of good for the families concerned, for the reputation of the Swiss banking community, and for the future of Heidyland.
Amazingly, showing the way to a mutually satisfactory solution of the issue of Jewish Nazi victims' untraceable Swiss assets may fall on the shoulders of one of History's most persistently disadvantaged peoples, namely the Kurds (not forgetting their fellow Assyrian and Turkoman victims of Saddam's still surviving horror regime). The deal proposed by the leaders of the Mosul Vilayet Council - the supreme political power of this Allied-protected former Ottoman province of Northern Iraq - would be:
Allied or UN-guaranteed administrative independence from Baghdad and economicfreedom, notably to sell from Europe's strategic oil reserve situated in the Mosul Vilayet, in exchange for setting up a one billion dollar compensation fund in favor of families of Jewish Nazi victims, alimented by the petroleum thus brought to international markets (conceivably by way of and in partnership with "independent" American oil companies) and managed jointly by Jewish community and Mosul Vilayet Council representatives.Supported by imaginative politicians, Senator D'Amato's and other parliamentarians' moral outrages may thus finally make a dent also against Saddam's persistently unopposed violations of the human rights of his own people. This is overdue in light of the UN's proven capacity to shoot itself into its own feet and stab into the back of those it is supposed to protect. That is what happened when the UN representative allowed Saddam Hussein to effectively set aside the Security Council resolution 688 which was supposed to protect the Kurds against Saddam's vicious policies. It also happened due to the UN's persistent failure to enforce the still valid minority protection and other obligations Iraq solemnly incurred with its constitutive Declaration of 30 Mai 1932 (reproduced in: UN Document E/CN.4/Sub.2/1992/NGO/27). And that is what is about to happen, notably if any of the "petroleum for food and medicine" Security Council resolutions (706, 712 and 986) will ever be put into practice.
Indeed, each one of these three "humanitarian" Security Council resolutions seems to compensate Iraq for the "loss" of "its" Kuwaiti oil by giving at least de facto UN benediction to Iraq's long-standing and disputed claims to have legal title over the petroleum resources located in the Mosul Vilayet and which it never before owned in international law. For in fact and in law, the oil-rich Mosul Vilayet was attached to Iraq in 1926 under stringent property rights and other conditions which were amplified in said still-binding 1932 Declaration. Conditions which provide for international protection in favor of the Assyrian, Kurdish and Turkoman landowners there. And conditions which any U.S. judge worth his salt could easily recognize as grounds for a seizure of any stolen oil Iraq may hence bring to the market, i.e. oil pumped without the legal owners' consent.
Common historial roots, common experiences and traditional genuine solidarity aside, the above proposition could also make sense from a business point of view. Indeed, given a choice, the leadership of the Mosul Vilayet Council would greatly prefer this Kurdish-Jewish self-help solidarity solution to the presently considered US$ 4 billion per year Security Council resolution 986. For the latter would not only constitute a rip-off of the Mosul Vilayet's "internationally protected" landowners but, perversely, would benefit the Baghdad regime - in an operation apparently designed less to relief the Iraqi people from its man-made misery than to prevent the UN's bankruptcy. Maybe then some U.S. presidential and other candidates for public offices elsewhere not only share these concerns and visions but are willing to help turn them into timely, concrete and mutually beneficial policies and actions.
PS: Since then, a first in Swiss lawmaker history and a sign of the time, a a "Letter of the Speakers of the Councils to the Foreign Parliaments" was issued in summer 1997 and put on the Net (http://www.parlament.ch/dL/E/dossiers/nachrichtenlose_vermoegen/letter_to_foreign_parliaments.htm) - even in English.
byXXY (1) - May 25, 1996
1. On comparing what has become known as the "D'Amato MOU" with the explanations offered by the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) in their French-language press release #7 of May 2 1996, one can finally understand that certain self-congratulatory comments circulating in Geneva banking circles could turn out to be justified: "The D'Amato problem is under control."
2. Indeed, two passages in these texts suggest that the
SBA has "pulled a fast one":
a) MOU point 6, seemingly innocently, stipulates an "environment of absolute discretion with a view of reaching an amicable resolution of all issues." The SBA presents this to mean "strict neutrality and confidentiality in order to attain in all points the results desired by the parties." This phrase is coded indication of a veto power and signals the application of a standard Swiss banker tactic which has frequently proved devastatingly effective in the past. Indeed, the Swiss routinely use the secrecy clause to shut out the press and the parliament whilst stone-walling in the courts and in negotiations ... until the victims find themselves alone. Given the notoriously short attention-span of Americans, some Swiss seem to expect that in the MOU-imposed absence of news, the press and Senator D'Amato will soon lose interest in the affair.
b) No less sinister, in the very different French text shows that the Swiss bankers are convinced that they have succeded in blocking all serious investigations in one of the most promising directions regarding the fate of Jewish property stolen by Nazis and their allies. In the English text, the Swiss Government is to be charged with finding "looted assets in Swiss banks or other institutions"; in the French version, this yet-to-be-accepted mandate is limited to "banks and financial institutions in Switzerland", eliminating the question of stolen goods placed in non-financial institutions, such as museums, art galeries and private collections, or transferred abroad.
3. The most famous case of stolen art which has occupied art historians, journalists and politicians since the 50ies is the origin of the private collection of the Swiss arms manufacturer Dieter Bührle (Oerlikon-Bührle). The Bührle dynasty has provided Germany essential weapons in both world wars. In WW2 some 80 % of all German anti-aircraft weapons and ammunition were manufactured in Switzerland [particularly by Oerlikon-Bührle], with deliveries continuing [into] 1945. For these last deliveries Germany paid with stolen art treasures, much of which collected by Feldmarschall Hermann Göring. One large and clearly identifiable Jewish collection stolen in Paris thus found its way to the Dieter Bührle collection and - due to Swiss law and practices - Mr.Bührle has been able to fend off French government-supported recovery attempts over the last 40 years. The Swiss penal code gives good title to anybody who managed to hold on to stolen art for more than 30 years. Moreover, Swiss wartime emergency legislation and postwar judgements presume good title for any asset, irrespective of criminal or non-criminal origin, acquired by Swiss citizens from Germany during the Nazi period. The only limitation seems to have been robbery committed by the Swiss acquirer himself.
4. Another question of stolen goods which have passed through Switzerland concerns the gold reserves of France and several other countries. In 1940, the gold reserves of theBanque de France by far exceeded the combined reserves of Fort Knox and the Bank of England. The Nazis stole the entire French reserves before the end of 1940, and much of it ended up in Swiss vaults. After WW2, the Swiss Government came visibly under pressure from the Allies and consented to various demands, including the turning over some SFR 250 mio worth of Nazi gold to the United States. According to findings by the Swiss historian Werner Rings, much of this gold was of French origin (foundry markings). Not only are the circumstances and conditions murky, but it is also still far from clear how much French gold was returned to France, how much found its way to the American reserves, and how much was turned into "Swiss gold". Interestingly, some European historians suspect that several parts of the U.S. and other Allied governments participated in the post-war disappearance of Jewish and non-Jewish assets confiscated by the Nazis.
5. It is thus clear that the full story will never come out. Actual and/or former CIA, KGB, DGSE, MI6 and Mossad insiders with strong vested interests seek to keep it that way (not least for exploiting these hidden collusions as economic and political leverage against the Swiss Government). The record points to guilty involvement of many non-Swiss personalities and governing circles. Raising the sights beyond what can be seen and touched appears to be indispensable.
6. Various Swiss banking scandals have brought to the surface the tip of the iceberg of long-standing post-WW2 links between the 3 big Swiss banks and the American intelligence community. Some of these links - notably that with the Union Bank of Switzerland - seem to have their origins in the U.S. exploitation of the cavalier treatment of Jewish pre-WW2 deposits. The outgrowth of these cancers is manifest in the BCCI affair (over-lapping directorship of Dr.Alfred Hartmann), in the SASEA affair and in the Shakarchi affair which was not only admitted, by the U.S. Embassy in Berne, as a CIA affair, but even brought down Switzerland's Minister of Justice Elisabeth Kopp. Another CIA link was amply documented in the case of Colonel North and other U.S. officials operating through the Credit Swiss which was found to have been blackmailed by the intelligence community since the fourties.
7. On this background and on the
secrecy road prescribed by the MOU, the survivors among the Jewish Nazi
victims and their heirs have no chance to obtain satisfaction for their
claims. The only way to fundamentally change the equation is that
the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, if necessary with the Senate Intelligence
Committee, go beyond the public record and subpoena still classified files
from the CIA and other intelligence agencies, seeking answers to such questions
a) How much Nazi loot has remained in Switzerland, and how much was placed abroad and where (the most likely candidates being the United States and Japan)?
b) How much stolen Jewish art has been "safeguarded" in the U.S. either by Swiss bankers, GIs or officials (a recent Texas case involving a deceased former OSS officer speaks for itself)?
c) In practical terms, how much stolen Jewish assets which have remained in Switzerland are still legally and physically accessible by the Swiss bankers or the Swiss Government and thus are still genuinely subject to be returned to their pre-WW2 owners? (the restitution of the Bührle collection - and most other such assets - would require another time-consuming operation, i.e. a change of Swiss law, subject to a Swiss referendum)
8. In summary, the Jewish claimants and those wishing to lend them a hand should entertain no illusions as to the fondamentally prevailing lack of good faith and the resulting difficulties. In fact, they should thus not expect any favorable results from the negotiations between the representatives of the Jewish World Congress and the SBA. In contrast, a competently led and persistent U.S. Senate investigation could lead somewhere.
9. The Swiss Investors Protection Association ASDI - representing small investors - has raised similar concerns, based on its own related experiences defending Jewish and non-Jewish victims. More surprisingly, in a commentary entitled "Senator D'Amato's salutary moral outrages", it has also suggested to various journalists a radically new approach to the issue of difficult-to-document Swiss bank deposits made by Jewish Nazi victims (ASDI 5/17/96).
(1) A Swiss investigative journalist specializing in business stories since 1968, the author, in cooperation with a number of colleagues, has researched matters related to pre-WW2 deposits made in Swiss banks by Jewish Nazi victims. Among these colleagues, Frank Garbely (t+f: 011-4122-7329177) is to be credited with critical findings based notably on his research of de-classified material in U.S. archives (he has written extensively on this subject and he has produced several features for the Swiss television).
PS: Since then, a first in Swiss lawmaker history and a sign of the time, a "Letter of the Speakers of the Councils to the Foreign Parliaments" was issued in summer 1997 and put on the Net (http://www.parlament.ch/dL/E/dossiers/nachrichtenlose_vermoegen/letter_to_foreign_parliaments.htm) - even in English.
by Anton Keller, Secretary,
Investors Protection Association
(shortened version published in: The Wall Street Journal, editorial page, 23 July 1996)
Now, even the Journal seems to have fallen into goose-step when it reported "progress" on the G7's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to fight financial crimes by way of harmonizing "banking laws to close loopholes that money launderers exploit and to aid in international law enforcement efforts" (Staying on the Heels of the Money Launderers, WSJE, June 26, 1996). All considered, this fight is sand in the eyes of the public. Perversely, it benefits Mafia kingpins and others, while throwing monkey wrenches in the weels of genuine efforts against drug abuses and trafficking. As such, it does more harm than good to upright Citizens, democracy and the world economy.
The signs at the wall are clear:universal U.S. jurisdiction and lex americana where multi-national and associated companies will be rained in under the effective control of Uncle Sam with the help of technological superiority, comprehensive world-wide telephone surveillance and the Helms-Burton and similar congressional acts, unitary taxation, home control laws (already under consideration by the G10, eventually providing for U.S. agents marauding in subsidiaries of U.S. companies abroad) etc. And whatever looked-for intelligence may still elude the U.S. National Security Agency's electronic and cryptographic penetration powers, it is to be collected anywhere on the ground with whatever "legal" means it takes. The security systems of some big Swiss banks are thus seen to be already compromised [Fabrizio Clavi, Thierry Pfister, "L'oeil de Washington", Albin Michel, Paris 1997].
Since our foundation in 1980 and in cooperation with some alert foreign and Swiss lawmakers [notably François d'Aubert, Felix Auer, Christoph Blocher, Jean-Pierre Bonny, Ulrich Bremi, Andreas Brunner, Pierre de Chastonay, Pascal Couchepin, Rudolf Friedrich, Kurt Furgler, Hans Gattermann, Otto von Habsburg, Peter Hefti, Werner Jauslin, Elisabeth Kopp, Markus Kündig, François Lachat, Otto von Lambsdorff, Jean Lecanuet, Alain Madelin, Franco Masoni, Charles Millon, Franz Muheim, Valentin Oehen, Gilles Petitpierre, Suzette Sandoz, Carlo Schmid, Stefan Schwarz, Vreni Spoerry, Franz Steinegger, Georg Stucky, Phillippe de Villiers, Hansjürg Weder], we have sought to stem the tide against weakening sovereign protections for individuals, standing against fiscal aberrations and all forms of extra-territorial applications of U.S. laws and customs in particular. Together with the Journal, we have thus been in the vanguard of the fight against administrative assistance in fiscal matters (OECD/Council of Europe INTERFIPOL convention),illicit procurement of evidence abroad (Marc Rich and Aerospatiale cases), and inter-administrative back-scratching in victim-free insider cases (Kuwait International / Santa Fe). And we have all watched with growing alarm the creeping and innocent-sounding penalization of cash transactions - and its hidden agendas - being sold very effectively under the misleading term money laundering. For it is designed to enoble those who appear to be fighting this "evil" while it lets critics to be painted as fighting against motherhood.
The next target of various U.S. agencies is the non-bank financial institutions, i.e. the "cash-intensive businesses", such as money transmitters, insurance companies and real estate firms, eventually covering also lawyers and fiduciaries. The Swiss cabinet recently approved a draft beef up of Heidyland's money laundering law. If the Swiss lawmakers adopted this latest lex americana, financial managers would see their reporting rights turned into penally enforceable obligations to turn in. This would be progress in the wrong direction.
In a genuine democracy, the Citizen is the sovereign of the state, with the public servants paid by him and supposed to be at his service, and not the other way around. Indeed, if the Citizen is to exercise this crucial role effectively, responsibly and to the mutual benefit, he/she must be able to develop and apply his/her talents and exercise his/her indispensable freedoms reliably, based on corresponding laws, rules and practices.
Yet, more than ever, Citizens need to protect themselves against governmental favoritism, arbitrary wealth redistribution and being robbed of the fruits of their labors. And while in the past, administrations achieved their related objectives mostly with the help of such accross-the-board measures as excessive taxes, inflationary policies and de-monetarization of money (1971 gold link cut), the powers that be have become more sophisticated. By now they exploit, a.o., economic gradients within the society by favoring their political supporters on the back of their adversaries with the help of economic spying, phone tapping, etc. With a long, marking history of governmental confiscations, the French citizenry evolved and repeatedly succeded to impose the principle of anonymity of gold possessions. As such it has shown a generally valid way out with the new-old human right to undisclosed private property which is to protect also against such fiscal traps as property self-incrimination. Indeed, a society's degree of evolution towards - or away from - democratic ideals directly reflects the protection it accords to its residents in that it shoulders the burden of proof of any wrong-doing, fiscal matters not excluded.
In a world of increasingly intrusive, paralyzing and hostile administrations, a responsible Citizen's best allies are his Parliamentary Representative, his lawyer and his banker. In a self-respecting state of law with a future, bankers worth their salt - like lawmakers, lawyers, doctors and priests - would refuse to be turned into agents of alien norms, into policemen and into state auxiliaries. As key pillars of a strong Citizen-oriented state, they need not less but more effective protection against any interference with their work, be it foreign or home-grown.
In a time of growing confusion and turmoil, undermining these protective mechanisms invites certain disaster for both, Citizen and state. For anything that undercuts the individual's freedoms, sense of responsibility and entrepreneurial inputs carries with it the risk of social, economic and political degeneration with huge real costs. Indeed, the obligation to denounce, to carry the burden of proof of licit ownership in property and income matters, and to heed unjustified, essentially self-serving bureaucratic procedures, is mostly a short-sighted formula for counter-productive effects - if not for failure. America's Prohibition illustrates this.
Having said that, we are, of course, not in favor of criminal behavior by anyone. As an investor protection association, our very raison d'être is to seek protection for both small and big private or public investors against abuses and criminal behavior by anyone, be it a local or foreign individual, institution or government agency. But we would fail our duties if we did not heed our experiences and insights, if we were instead to follow the fashion of the time and let ourselves be steam-rolled into remaining silent on manifestly damaging alien policies serving hidden agendas.
We are forde-criminalizing the market and the penal code is an excellent place to start with. To be sure, we are in favor of fighting socially contemptible, damaging behavior professionally - in the event even with police forces - at the roots rather than at the politically more convenient monetary tail end. Clearly, we are against insider tradings entailing real damages. They regularly contain an element of fraud. As such - as in all other cases - proper knowledge, interpretation and enforcement of existing laws, combined with solid police work, usually prermits adequate prosecution. There never was a need to take recourse to dubious lex americana insider and other convenient - nota bene civil - holding charges which undermine, distract and overload the penal system and recklessly discourage and throw badly needed entrepreneurial forces into black holes. We thus stand firmly against criminalizing socially acceptable, essentially harmless economic activities - even at the risk of abuses which no truly free society can avoid taking, and which should be fought with other than inadmissably costly, even counter-productive penal measures.
In the case of the alarming, creeping attempts to criminalize cash transactions - sold under the misleading PR term "money laundering" - evidence abounds that there is neither a genuine political will nor the possibility to really suppress "real" money laundering, since government agencies are the biggest players in the trade due to their participation in illicit, yet mostly state-sponsored trades in arms, drugs and strategic goods.
What's more, money laundering laws are even helpful for "ordinary" criminals, since they reduce competition and market access to newcomers. This, of course, suits the Mafia kingpins and their objective governmental allies just fine. Small wonder then that all these beautiful people can circumvent efforts by FATF and others relatively easily, e.g. by buying into the hardly controllable universal club of bankowners and use their international transfer network. This paradoxical situation brings to mind a previously-fought case, i.e. the World Health Organization's ill-considered baby food codex whose advertisement ban also strengthened the market position of the already dominent players.
October 2, 1996 (corr.1)
November 20, 1996 (second mail copy)
WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS
Mr.Edgar M.Bronfman, President
The Hon. Greville Janner, Vice-President
London t: 171-2226822; f:-2330161
Mutual solidarity offer in favor of Jewish Nazi victim families with Swiss bank deposits
In his capacity as Secretary of the Swiss Investors Protection Association, the undersigned called on your Mr. Steinberg on May 16 for a copy of the agreement reached between the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and the Swiss Bankers Association concerning unrecovered Jewish bank deposits. Accompanied with a first outline of the above proposal ("Senator D'Amato's salutary moral outrages"), he followed Mr. Steinberg's solicitation of a formal letter on hat same day - but has yet to hear from him. In contrast, the President of the Swiss Federation of Israeli Communities, Dr. Rolf Bloch, has been more helpful. Accordingly, the undersigned, in his other capacity as Adviser to the Mosul Vilayet Council (MVC), was encouraged to arrange for and, on June 17, to communicate to the WJC a detailed formal cooperation offer which has been linked to related policy changes and UN decisions (notably through the U.S. & UK governments). With fax of August 29, Dr.Bloch relayed the following answer which is understood to reflect the current WJC position:
Accordingly, we may be allowed to re-draw your particular attention to the annexed outline of the MVC's cooperation offer, as extracted from our letter to Dr.Bloch of June 17 and, in the event, to solicit your prompt response to the undersigned's fax in France (which changed since to: 00334-50322842). We shall be glad to give you further details and meet you, or your representative, at a time and place of mutual convenience. Meanwhile, we take this opportunity to express our appreciation for Dr.Bloch's good offices and look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely yours,
J.A.Keller, Adviser of the Mosul Vilayet Council
letter to Dr.Bloch, 6/17/96, extracts; Assyrian com & doc;
"Senator D'Amato's salutary moral outrages" 5/17/96; "Observations" 5/25/96; JdG 11/19/96.
cc: Dr. Rolf Bloch, President SIG, 3074 Muri (4139-441040);
Dr.iur. Sigi Feigel, 8023 Zürich (411-2110496)
* * *
MVC letter to Dr.Rolf Bloch,
President of Swiss Federation of Israeli Communities
1. This is to follow up on my first reactions to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the World Jewish Congress et al. and the Swiss Bankers Association of 2 May 1996. I gladly respond to your kind invitation to submit some initial background data in order for you and your colleagues to determine whether the proposed complement to the arrangement worked out with the Swiss banks is of interest to the American Jewish community.
This complementary Kurdish-Jewish
solidarity project is intended to effectively and promptly help both
the Kurdish, Jewish and other victims of Saddam Hussein as well as the Jewish
Nazi victims' heirs who have run into difficulties recovering the deposits
made in Swiss banks. It is designed to provide significant relief
irrespective of the duration and the results of the work thus entrusted
to the Commission set up with the MOU. It is based on proven, internationally
protected assets (petroleum resources now politically locked up in the
Vilayet, a U.S.-protected "Saddam-free zone" of Northern Iraq which
was conditionally attached in 1926 to the British-dependent Kingdom of
Iraq: see §5). These assets belong to the
peoples I represent, i.e. Kurdish, Assyrian, Turkish and Jewish landowners
of the Mosul Vilayet. The project thus provides for effective
political support by the American Jewish community for the enforcement
of these rights by the U.S. Government (directly and through the United
Nations) against payment of one billion dollars into a jointly administered
trust fond for said Jewish Nazi victims. The problem to be resolved
- and the vehicle available to that end - is SCR 986, i.e. the U.S.
State Department-sponsored UN "oil-for-food" resolution which is set
to bring back Saddam and may also be of concern to some American oil companies.
15. In light of the above, the [Mosul Vilayet] Council is open to consider even "outlandish" propositions if they can be turned into mutually beneficial reality. Accordingly, key Council Members have welcomed the idea of making a deal with the heirs of Jewish victims of Nazi Germany who seem to have little chance to recover their deposits from Swiss banks: In exchange for an early real compensation of these victims, the American Jewish community, joining hands with the Council, is to solicit the support of both candidates to the U.S. Presidency for the Council's above-outlined plans promptly and one after the other, and to publicly throw its political weight behind the most supportive candidate in order to secure early U.S. recognition of said "internationally guaranteed" land titles and U.S. support for lifting the devastating double embargo the UN and Baghdad imposed on its "internationally protected" inhabitants, including the right to export its own oil. Clearly, the Mosul Vilayet landowners would greatly prefer to pay to the Jewish Nazi victims one billion dollars through cooperation with domestic American oil companies, instead of permitting Saddam and the UN to be bailed out with oil stolen from Assyrian, Jewish, Kurdish and Turkoman landowners.
16. Although the identification and defense of the interests of other peoples, naturally, is incumbant on their representatives, the Council is also worried about other aspects of SCR 986. By giving the UN sovereign immunity even for jure gestione deals, the U.S. Government is seen to have overstepped its powers, in that SRC 986, if implemented as it stands, deprived U.S. residents of their constitutional rights to redress by U.S. judges. Thus, U.S. courts are meant to be unavailable for seizing the proceeds from stolen "Iraqi" oil put on the market with the help of the United Nations which, to a large percentage, stands to benefit directly from related operations. As a disguised treaty, SRC 986 thus also seems to merit a closer examination by the U.S. Senate.
17. The American and the World Jewish community could provide enlightened real leadership. Its contribution to changing the failed UN and Iraq policies could indeed go a long way towards healing still festering wounds in the Middle East. Particularly the plight of the inhabitants of the Mosul Vilayet could thus be resolved essentially without further burdening the U.S. taxpayers, more in line with what are seen to be U.S. interests in that part of the world and, last but not least, in a mutually beneficial way which would bring a prompt and happy end to the otherwise almost surely vain hopes of substantial recovery of the deposits Jewish Nazi victims had made in Swiss banks.
Mediators seek a definitive
settlement of the Jewish funds affair
Intermediaries are jostling to reach a comprehensive agreement. Figures mentioned
for an indemnification of victims of Nazism run from a hundred million to a billion dollars.
A Geneva association's proposal is declined.
by Christian Campiche
Who is manipulating whom in the Jewish funds affair?
While the question is still to be answered, one thing is now certain: behind
the scenes, the parties are each in their own way seeking to bring the
crisis to a close. A comprehensive settlement is in the air.
Passing through Bern yesterday, some British Members of Parliament proposed that Switzerland make a gesture toward victims of Nazism by contributing money to a foundation. In its latest issue, the German-language weekly Handelszeitung talks of a lump-sum payment of 100 million Swiss francs by Swiss banks to put an end to the controversy over dormant bank accounts. The head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) is calling for a solution along these lines. Elan Steinberg, executive director of the WJC, recently told this newspaper, "A comprehensive settlement is exactly what we are seeking."
Other attempts are being made to work out an amicable settlement, as proved by documents made available to the Journal de Genève and Gazette de Lausanne. In substance, the WJC has been in contact with a Geneva-based organization, the Swiss Association for Investor Protection (ASDI), which stands ready to lend its good offices to this cause. At stake was nothing less than a billion-dollar windfall payment to Jewish organizations by way of indemnification. But speaking through Rolf Bloch, president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, the WJC has politely declined the proposal.
A bit of background: In January 1996 the WJC and the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) began negotiations to settle the affair of unclaimed Jewish funds. The WJC advanced a claim of 7 billion dollars, to which the SBA responded with an estimate of 36 million Swiss francs.
On 2 May 1996, the WJC and SBA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), now known as the D'Amato MOU after the Republican US senator who has made the cause of unclaimed Jewish funds his own. The two parties agreed to appoint a committee of experts, all of them persons above suspicion, to be led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. Swiss bankers applauded but not Mr d'Amato, who cast doubt on the independence of the Volcker committee. Week after week, the hotheaded senator has been raining attacks on Switzerland. Little by little, the Swiss reaction has been taking shape. In the eyes of certain private groups such as ASDI, the reaction is still too timid. That organization, which acts as a lobbyist for "investors concerned about the image and reliability of the Swiss financial marketplace" is not without combat experience. Since 1980, it has intervened in several affairs (Nabisco, Sasea, the double-taxation treaty with France) that made the financial pages, not always successfully.
ASDI has gone over the D'Amato MOU and realized that it contains a key point in article 6: a confidentiality clause applying to any voluntary transaction that could move the case closer to resolution. Taking the directive at face value, it has concocted an ambitious plan but has so far failed to persuade the WJC (see sidebar). Will the WJC change its mind at its next meeting on 24-25 November 1996? "The offer can be reactivated", says an ASDI representative, who dares to believe the WJC itself is not just a victim of exaggerated hopes. But what if the Jewish funds affair were just the tree that hides the forest? A forest in which lumberjacks were scheming to overthrow banking secrecy for other, less admitable motives ... such as imposing the rule of lex americana universalis?
TAKING THE LID OFF SWISS BANK SECRECY
Keller, Secretary, Swiss
Investors Protection Association
(originally filed version)
Faith Whittlesey, the former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland during the Reagan administration, commendably came to the rescue of my apparently shamed-into-silence compatriots when she put into perspective the resurfaced allegations on misbehaving Swiss bankers and politicians (Nazi Gold: The Swiss Side of the Story, WSJE, December 17, 1996). It is comforting to know that Switzerland has not only good weather fans abroad. And that some American friends begin to stand up and be counted against the witchhunt which, unleashed by some apprentice-sourcerers, risks to backfire badly.
Which is not to say anything against Senator D'Amato's salutary moral outrages. In fact, it is to appreciate the unique service to the future of Heidyland which has been rendered by this and other, notably foreign critics. For they have thus helped - how no insider could - to recognize, stop and eventually overcome in time the disastrously gangrenous effects of mediocrity due to moral decay. Nevertheless, there is still much more to it than meets the eye. And some related, in fact inseparable stories will yet have to be told (they involve not only Allied Governments' actions and inactions on Jewish matters during and since WW2, but no less questionable past and on-going Swiss actions involving Jews and members of other ethnic or religious minorities).
On the subject of looted Nazi gold, unclaimed WW2 Swiss bank deposits, and Switzerland's handling of its neutrality status and related functions during and after WW2, the jury is still out. By now, most actors, victims and witnesses have passed away. And while the secrecy lids which were attached to the mountains of related documents have been taken off over the past 20 years, the Swiss general public at least is still - some would say: has deliberately been kept - ignorant of what was really going on in their name, both during and after the war years.
Not so accidently, and tellingly, a lid was placed over this subject after WW2. This lid has existed since 1951 in the form of penal code article 266bis, which threatens anybody with legal harassment and prison for divulging abroad information viewed as damaging to Switzerland. Being enforced notably against foreign journalists working on the Jewish story, this is a political crime article - and Switzerland's probably most self-damaging law at that. For Swiss society has thus already too long been deprived of all-too-many a regenerative critical impulse from abroad which might have offset somewhat the by-now-society-permeating critical mass for failure, i.e. the syndrom and phenomen we may call ARIGIN (for: ARrogance, IGnorance and INcompetence on which, of course, Switzerland has no monopoly, as the newly unearthed and de-classified official report on the Bay of Pigs invasion shows: International Herald Tribune, 23 February 1998).
Friends and supporting voices trying to cool the debate on an emotion-charged, complex and confusing subject, are one thing. Historians have other responsibilities - and time-scales. And Politicians - at least the ones playing chess, the rare, principled birds with a vision - demonstrate real leadership qualities not by avoiding taboos, not by promoting mediocrity and not by being nice to polished opportunists.
It was high time for someone to sound the tocsin. The peanut gnomes deserve to be shaken down - and out. Not only because of their notorious arrogance, and because they betrayed their homeland and sold their grandmother long ago. But primarily because of their generally harmful complacency, short-sightedness and opportunistic wheelings & dealings. Also, it has become urgent to recognize thesigns at the wall and to actively forestall another anti-semitic backlash. Thank you Faith, Alfonse and others.
by Anton Keller, Secretary,
Investors Protection Association
box 2580, 1211 Geneva 2 - e-mail: email@example.com - 5 March 1997
Heidyland has some problems. Its currency, the Swiss franc, is showing the strains of maintaining the "out-moded" gold standard in a sea of funny moneys. And under a suspicious combination of foreign pressures, its 2.59 mio kg gold reserves -the world's 4th largest (1) - are no longer tabou or out of reach of clever manipulators. Loaded with collective guilt and stampeded into hoped-to-be liberating actions, the Swiss may inadvertedly end up loosing their "family gold" and serve as models for drawing other vulnerable peoples into footing the bill for some other brave "New World Order".
After a year-long barrage of U.S.-lead attacks reviving old World War Two ghosts, the Swiss Government is seen to have finally lost its cool and to have "caved in" (2). Some suspect: to cut losses. Others go further, anticipating more revelations beyond "Jewish stories". To be sure, everyone was surprised when the Government received and promptly heeded the advice of the president of the Swiss National Bank (SNB). It opted for "a more active management of its gold reserves" (3). For their revaluation. And for using part of this accounting windfall to create a seven billion Swiss franc ($4.71 billion) "Solidarity Foundation" for Holocaust and other Swiss and foreign victim families.
But in monetary matters particularly, fiddling with the golden rules can be risky, particularly when done in haste. As precious metal, gold has served men best on women's skin, as a nest egg and as a universally accepted anonymous exchange tool. So far, no real substitute has been found for gold as reference value for international trade and commerce (4). Indeed, the world-wide effects of the short-sighted U.S.$/gold link cut of 1971 growingly indicates a return to some internationally usable real value money. Moreover, Piper of Hamlin gestures are no substitute for genuine leadership - initial applause then and now by politicians and pundits notwithstanding. Even the most innovative hat trick remains just that. And taking it for real can be costly.
Yes, Switzerland - almost by design - has traditionally been late on most big issues. It thus oftenavoided history's pitfalls, while successfully perfecting its art of mediocrity. And it developed a habit not only of curious - if not apologetic - attitudes but also of innovative yet occasionally badly backfiring excuses for its particularity, its "Sonderfall". Not surprisingly then, and less because than despite of itself, Switzerland may thus be the last gold standard bearer. For it is still constitutionally obliged to have its money covered by "gold and short-term deposits" (5). And the SNB, by law, is required to provide for a minimum coverage of 40% in gold at the legally fixed rate of SFR 4595/kg.
The Swiss franc now
enjoys a gold coverage of over 150% - at current rates. Nevertheless,
its legal coverage has fallen to 42%, giving the impetus to review the
options. In theory, lowering the legal minimum gold coverage and/or
bringing the exchange rate more in line with the market could be decided
by the government on its own. Yet, given the internal and the international
ramification of a gold revaluation, the Swiss Government may want to consult
not only its international partners but also let its citizens decide.
In practice then, a constitutional change would be needed, preceded
by a thorough debate and supported by a majority of both the Swiss voters
and the 26 cantons. On such a delicate and complex matter, the result
at the end of a long road is far from certain. By coming out
now with such a far-reaching proposal, the SNB may also have had reasons
of its own.
Before looking at apparently hidden agendas pushing Switzerland to begin selling its gold treasure (approx. SFR44 billion), a glimpse at this Sonderfall may be in order. To be sure, Switzerland's still vibrant direct democracy, its time-consuming procedures and cumbersome institutions have evolved since its foundation some seven hundred years ago. And they have proven their value for respecting not only the prerogatives of its 26 sovereign republics and cantons, but for accomodating also the legitimate rights and aspirations of many language, religious and other minorities living in this alpine territory.
One glaring example of this Sonderfall attitude is Switzerland's short-sighted yet long-standing violation of other countries' fiscal sovereignty. On grounds of its special neutrality status, and effectively ignoring the general dismay of all foreign chancelleries, Switzerland started imposing its citizens abroad with a "military compensation tax" over 100 years ago. This gave some bad ideas to other taxmen in search for new revenues. Earlier this century, the U.S. started to tax its citizens abroad. And today we are faced with an almost generalized violation of some golden fiscal principles. For by now, each State's interest - and quid pro quo obligation - to protect one's own taxpayers against foreign snoops and taxation has been lost sight of, in favor of effective double tax-filing, double taxation and economic spying. For some time, this tendency - expressed most sharply in the OECD/Council of Europe INTERFIPOL scheme - was successfully fought in an alliance with the Wall Street Journal (Seth Lipsky), the International Chamber of Commerce and its national chapters, some loyal Geneva banker friends, and a handful of not so ordinary journalistic comrades (6).
Another illustration of its particularities is seen in Switzerland's traditional rejection of foreign pressures to observe individual human rights, and in its insistence to recognize only such magistrates who are familiar with local customs and know the law of the land. Already in their Federal Pact of 1291,
To be sure, true to its traditions and for reasons of its own explained above, Switzerland has also been late in granting freedom of residency and equality of treatment to Jews; it did so only after its 1874 Constitution brought about the necessary changes. And with a dominently Christian population and a Catholic, Jesuit-influenced core making up most of its central cantons, it seems fair to say that to this day Switzerland has not been known to buck religious trends and evolutions taking place in the rest of Europe. And while it has not been spared its isolated bouts with racism and xenophopia, already the 1911 census shows that foreigners made up half the populations of Lugano and Geneva.
Indeed, the integration capacity of Swiss society has been as outstanding as it has been a key source for Switzerland's industrial evolution, cultural richness and economic wealth. Nevertheless, the Swiss body politics of both the WW2 and the present era is seen to be characterized by a trait some mistake for anti-semitism, when in fact it is a ratherre-assuring, for deeply-running feeling against foreign judges, laws and domination. This explains the Swiss citizenry's inclination to vote against anything resembling those self-serving lex americana universalis (8) - contrary governmental fits notwithstanding. For reasons of their own, which are partly explained below, the big three Swiss banks' attitude on these and related matters regularly - and revealingly - has contrasted with those of its Swiss clients. Through their actions and inactions, they haplessly helped bring about an endless stream of foreign pressures, culminating in the U.S. Senate's call for sanctions - which, according to their authors' own assessment "constitute economic warfare" (9) - and, more recently, in a publicly threatened boycott and shutdown of American branches of Swiss banks.
And that, in the end, may also provide a key to understanding what's really under way against Heidyland. Following a long tradition, official Switzerland strictly and successfully adhered throughout WW2 to its internationally recognized status of an armed, permanently neutral country. Contrary efforts by numerous personalities and groups notwithstanding, its particular historical, political and cultural background ruled out any other position.
This has to do with a deeply ingrained and time-tested reluctance to meddle in other peoples' affairs - or to officially side with any party to a conflict, be it nearby or far away. Until recently, Switzerland's predictability essentially rested on two noteworthy for highly successful foreign policy pillars (10): 1. its unique permanent armed neutrality, and 2. its international commercial links. The latter, over the past hundred years, have been promoted by a network of very liberal and still valid - but mostly forgotten and indeed often neglected - bilateral "friendship, commerce and establishment" treaties with all of its neighbors and over 20 other important trading partners, incl. the U.S. and Canada (11). The underlying policies have been deliberately chosen and are still generally supported by the overwhelming majority of Swiss citizens as continuously valid and practical alternatives to Swiss membership in NATO, the European Union and the United Nations. This is evidenced by the popular votes in favor of its army, but against denying itself nuclear arms, joining the UN or EEA, i.e. "Brussels'" climatized waiting room (12). Moreover, the peculiar Swiss neutrality status has never failed to be recognized by the powers that be - e.g. by the Powers of the Vienna Congress of 1815 which expressed their appreciation in the following terms:
With the implosion of the Soviet Union, new vistas opened up and fundamentally new alliances became conceivable for the next century. Given the general confusion and the gaping leadership void which characterizes most chancelleries around the world, the members of the above clandestine bodies found themselves encouraged to push their designs ahead by using their existing networks and exploiting their secret WW2 files more vigorously. With its - by now - docile and most servile bureaucracy, with its huge gold cache, and with its biggest banks highly vulnerable for some of the things they did or failed to do during and since WW2, the obvious prime funding target has been Switzerland, with Portugal, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries reportedly also on the target list as follow-up candidates.
The question has no longer been if, but when and how to proceed. Obviously, even for non-Jewish schemers and apprentice-sourcerers, the Holocaust offered the emotionally most potent and thus the most effective vehicle for "bringing Switzerland to its knees", as an Austrian journal headlined in the wake of President Koller's blockbuster speech. For them, it even offered an additional advantage: if anything turned sour, it wouldn't hurt them. And said constitutional obligation represents indeed a big, tricky and unpredictable obstacle in front of Berne's Alibaba cave.
Some argue that the string-pullers may even bank on the Swiss voters to gut this ill-considered project (16) - giving the former an excuse to organize a world-wide seizure of Swiss assets. Others bank on the - until recently - dissuasive effects of the notorious article 266bis of the Swiss Penal Code with regard to foreign publications (17). And in tandem with the traditionally docile and obedient Swiss press, self-censoring foreign journalists might indeed help this harmful project to sail through the rough waters of sceptical Swiss voters. In that case, more and more demands could be expected to be pressed ever more urgently for footing public debts and various projects. Switzerland's gold stock would thus rapidly dwindle at ever lower rates. And though the Swiss export industry might even like it for some time, this would ring the bell for the once gold-heavy Swiss franc. For it would inevitably loose its myth, respectability and much of its luster - like so many other things Swiss (18).
Still others have awoken to these sinister designs and to these dangers and are understood not to remain idle. They were alerted when the World Jewish Congress, last August, was made to be seen to have rejected out of hand a one-billion dollar solidarity project(19). That solidarity project would not have been burdened with referendum headaches. And it could have provided real, substantial and prompt relief to those families of Jewish Nazi victims who had placed their trust in vain inSwiss hospitality and Swiss bankers' reliability. Which, perversely, might be the very reason for its having been torpedoed by some who, manifestly, follow completely different, hidden agendas. This has given rise to some questions - and suspicions of a measuring stick being unfairly applied to Switzerland which the critics refuse to apply to their own government. What has been successfully obscured so far is that - penal code article 267 notwithstanding - some Swiss officials have appeared to act persistently in tandem with some of the schemers involved from both across the Atlantic and nearby.
It is indeed curious to see Swiss functionaries - again - do the dirty work for others. This time around the aims seem to be: helping Saddam Hussein to loot Iraq's Assyrian, Jewish, Kurdish and Turkoman landowners (who may not wait 50 years before they bring their compensation claims), and sparing some regimes avoidable embarrassment at the UN Commission on Human Rights, e.g. by handling the host country's visa prerogatives accordingly. This has resulted in refugee cases - e.g. Said Lahlali and his family - to be handled in ways which were thought to belong to a bygone dark chapter in European history. In this sense, the case of a former Iraqi governor and current opposition leader Mohammed Sidik Mahmoud is revealing and deserves attention. Even though the responsible officials of both Bundesrat Cotti's Foreign Ministry and Bundespräsident Koller's Ministry of Justice and Police could not be ignorant of the fact that Mr.Sidik was threatened with a death sentence in Baghdad, Mr.Sidik was arrested for deportation to Baghdad (sic!) when, on February 23, 1986, he arrived at Geneva airport with valid Swiss and French visas for human rights work at the UN. He was released to France only in extremis after a chilling 5 hours detention. Surely, the Swiss Government's related actions and inactions so far have not exactly helped its position in the on-going struggle to save what's left of, and to rebuild Heidyland's reputation.
In this light, recent
statements by Switzerland's Ambassador to Washington, Carlo Jagmetti
and last year's President,
Jean-Pascal Delamuraz (21),
appear in a different color. For when the former, in his confidential
to his government, warned of "economic warfare", these words reflected
not a diplomat's martial prose
but the brutal reality. What's wrong
was the impression that Switzerland still had the option to either avoid
or resort to an economic war - when in fact such a war against Switzerland
had been facilitated by Swiss officials and bankers and has been going
on for years. In direct application of the preposterous colleagial
advice by Switzerland's former Attorney General, this followed a script
published in the above-quoted 1983 U.S. Senate report . And when
President Delamuraz, in his end-of-the-year interview, finally elected
to draw the line and speak of foreign pressures and intolerable
blackmailings, he spoke his mind truthfully and from the people's
soul. But he has yet to say so if he meant the notorious U.S.
pressures and blackmailings - and the co-conspirators
in the federal administration in Berne. And didn't have in mind
the apparently misused Jewish organizations who are indeed most exposed
to anti-semitic backlashes. For there are signs at the wall,
indicating that dark forces try to use for their own ends the just cause
of the Holocaust victims, in order to culpabilize and stampede
Switzerland into disgorging its gold reserves. And there may
be wisdom to be found in the paraphrased Irish saying: "The
fact that you are rich and not paranoid doesn't
mean THEY are not out to get your gold." Only, this time around,
it may take more than 007 to outwit "Goldfinger".
According to the Swiss National Bank, the national gold reserves were in
USA 8148; Germany 3700; France 3172; Switzerland 2590; Italy 2590; Japan 746; Taiwan 435; China 404; Brasil 124. World's highest per capita gold cache: Switzerland 370g.
"Die Schweiz und die jüngere Zeitgeschichte - Erklärung von Bundespräsident
Arnold Koller vor der Bundesversammlung", Neue Zürcher Zeitung
6.März 1997; "Schweiz in die Knie gezwungen, Regierung musste auf
Druck der USA Milliardenfonds für Naziopfer einrichten", Voralberger
Nachrichten (Austria), 6 March 1997; Margaret
Studer, "Swiss gold reserves will be used to fund a humanitarian foundation"
Wall Street Journal Europe 6 March 1997.
(3) Dr.Hans Meyer, Chairman of the SNB Governing Board, in his Tages-Anzeiger interview: "Den Stein ins Rollen gebracht", 6 March 1997. For a first critical analysis, see: Beat Brenner, "Gold - wofür und wofür nicht?", Neue Zürcher Zeitung 8.März 1997.
(4) Judy Shelton, "How To End Currency Gyrations", Wall Street Journal Europe, 22 January 1998.
(5) Swiss Constitution, Art.39, al.7
(6) "Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters", full text at: www.solami.com/127.htm; see also: "Off base at the OECD", WSJE editorial, 9 May 1986; H.Anton Keller "Europe's Taxmen Plot an Orwellian Scheme", WSJE 9 May 1986; other related WSJE editorials: "Waking Up to the OECD" 7 July 1986, "A Clarification" 11 July 1986, "Switzerland to the Rescue?" 1 Aug. 1986, "Sneak Treaty" 3 Dec. 1986, "Secretary Shultz's Fumble" 8 Jan. 1987, "Europe on Deadline" 6 March 1987, "Income Tax Interpol" 3 June 1987, "OECD on Tax Avoidance" 30 June 1987, "Skepticism on Tax Treaty" 14 July 1987, "The Antilles Heel" 15 July 1987, "Genscher on the Spot" 14 Oct. 1987, "Showdown in Strasbourg" 25 Nov. 1987, "Strasbourg's Next Step" 8 Jan. 1988, "Tax Treaty Countdown" 19 January 1988, "No-Show in Strasbourg" 26 January 1988, "An OECD Secret Session" 31 March 1988; Walter Steiner, "So nicht!", Handels-Zeitung, 15.Mai 1986; Alexandre Bruggmann, "Connaissez-vous INTERFIPOL?", Tribune de Genève, 20 mai 1986; Paul Betts, "OECD defends scheme to fight tax evasion", Financial Times, 3 June 1986; Nigel Hawkes, "Storm over tax sans frontiers", The Observer, 6 July 1986; Stefan Conradi, "Erpressbar", Handels-Zeitung, 24.Juli 1986; Peter Spori, "'Interfipol'.Konvention", Der Schweizer Treuhänder, September 1986; Federico Rampini, "Il Grande Fratello si Chiamo Fisco", Mondo Economico, 27 ottobre 1986; Georg Schwarz, "Die ominöse Steuerkonvention von OECD und Europarat", Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 3.Dezember 1986; Paul Bellinghausen, "Die Steuerschnüffelei wird vertagt", Rheinischer Merkur, 18.Dezember 1986; Gabriel Veraldi, "Europe: le complot de 'l'internationale' du fisc", Figaro Magazine, 28 mars 1987; Paul Fabra, "Interfipol", Le Monde, 21 avril 1987; Fabrizio Alazzi, "'No' delle imprese all'Interpol fiscale", Il Sole 24 Ore, 9 May 1987; James Morrissey, "Interpol-style network plan to trap tax dodgers", Irish Independent, 18 June 1987; William Dullforce, "European tax move angers businessmen", Financial Times, 27 June 1987; Paul Keller, "Wohlweisliche Distanzierung von einer Missgeburt", Basler Zeitung, 27.Juni 1987; .
translated and reproduced in: "On
the Ideal Nation - Observations on Nation-Building and Citizen-State Relations"
paper, European Confederation Conference,
Prague June 1991
(8) Margaret Studer "Swiss Release Santa Fe Data Sought by U.S.", 21 February 1985; "A Swiss Mistake", WSJE editorial 22 February 1985; Erich Reyhl "Rechtshilfeabkommen: Zunehmende Übergriffe der USA in die schweizerische Wirtschaft", Basler Zeitung 15.März 1985; "Swiss Questions", WSJE editorial 18 March 1985; "Lex Americana", WSJE editorial 26 March 1985; Hans-Rudolf Böckli, "Lex Americana", Finanz + Wirtschaft; "Dubiose Tricks", Oltner Tagblatt 3.April 1985; "Schweizer Banken zu nachgiebig?", Frankfurter Zeitung, Blick durch die Wirtschaft 18.April 1985; "Paragraphitis", Oltner Tagblatt 2.Mai 1985; "Switzerland's Baby", WSJE editorial 24 May 1985; "TREATY NEGOTIATIONS are urged in the U.S. to end foreign-bank secrecy" WSJE 11 October 1985; Fritz Sturm, "Mettre notre justice au service des étrangers", Nouvelle Revue de Lausanne, 25 octobre 1985; ""Suckering the Swiss", WSJE editorial 4 March 1986; Karl Hofstetter "Powerplay der SEC", Handelszeitung 26.Juni 1986; "Watch Out for Mr. Shad", WSJE editorial 18 July 1986; Peter Platzer, "Was sind die politischen Materialien (noch) wert?" Schweiz. Gewerbezeitung, 26.Januar 1987; Pierre de Chastenay "Cela suffit!", Journal de l'USAM juin 1987; Stephen Wermiel "U.S. Justices Rule on Access to Foreign Data", WSJE 16 June 1987; A.A.Hermann "Long arm laws: A lesson from the US", FT 25 June 1987;Hans Rudolf Böckli, "IPR - kein gutes Ende?" Finanz + Wirtschaft, 22.Juli 1987; Arnold F. Thalmann, "Willkommen fremde Richter! Eigentorfreudige IPR-Musterschützen", Neues Bülacher Tagblatt, 7.August 1987; Kurt Huber, "Umstrittenes internationales Privatrecht", St.Galler Tagblatt, 11.August 1987; "Disconnected Dialogue", WSJE editorial 25 August 1987; "Switzerland's Justice Minister States Her Case", WSJE 29 October 1987; Anton Keller "No Justice in Swiss Insider Stance", WSJE 3 November 1987; Beat Brenner "Schweizer Antworten auf amerikanische Ideen", Neue Zürcher Zeitung 7.November 1987; Suzette Sandoz, "Y aurait-il un référendumn dans l'air?", Journal de Pully, 22 janvier 1988; "Switzerland's Last Month", WSJE editorial 9 March 1988; "Spooking Switzerland", WSJE editorial 25 March 1988; "Schweizerische Interessen",Trumpf Buur, Neue Zürcher Zeitung 26.März 1988; Jean Mussard "A Trojan Horse in Switzerland", WSJE 12 April 1988; Paul Fabra "Point d'argent, point de Suisse?", Le Monde 14 avril 1988; Livio Magnani "Sarà meno segreto il conto in Svizzera", Il Sole 24 ore 28 April 1988; "An Inside Look", WSJE editorial 4 May 1988; "Let the Swiss Vote on Insiders", WSJE editorial 28 June 1988; "The Poor Swiss", WSJE editorial, 29 June 1988; George Melloan "Switzerland's 'Glasnost' Has Roots in the USA", WSJE 29 June 1988; "La Lex Americana doit être réexaminée", ASDI, AGEFI 25 mai 1988; Stanley Penn "U.S.-Made Chemicals Supply Narcotics Labs Across Latin America", WSJE 15 July 1988; "Thornburgh's Own Laundry", WSJE editorial, Anton Keller "On Switzerland's Grievous Mistake", WSJE 29 November 1988; Kurt Speck "Musterknabe", Handelszeitung 1.Dezember 1988; Margaret Studer "Swiss Minister Said to Consider Resigning Post", WSJE 12 December 1988; "Justice for Mrs.Kopp?", WSJE editorial 13 Dec. 1988; Erich Reyhl "Kuhhandel: Ex-Bundesanwalt Walder arbeitete für die USA", Basler Zeitung 19.Jan. 1989; Ruth Marcus "Court Upholds Warrantless U.S. Searches Abroad", IHT 1 March 1990; William Pfaff "Less Than Decent Respect for Others' Sovereignty", IHT 5 March 1990; "This is Gunboat Law", IHT editorial 7 March 1990; Christian Campiche "Le secret bancaire vacille, les banquiers appellent à l'aide",Journal de Genève 17 oct. 1996; Gérard Le Roux "Que le meilleur gagne", "La confusion règne", Genève Home Informations, 30 janvier, 13 février 1997; Pierre Mirabaud "Satellisierung der Schweiz?", Finanz und WIrtschaft, 4.Mai 2002.
(9) "Crime and Secrecy: the Use of Offshore Banks and Companies", Perm. Subcommittee on Investigations (Governmental Affairs), U.S. Senate, S.PRT 98-21, February 1983, p.137. The "coercive sanctions" proposed included: "requiring exit visas for all U.S. travelers to havens; ... denial of any international bank with a branch or subsidiary in the haven the privilege of the maintaining branches of subsidiaries in the U.S.; blocking accounts held in the U.S. by any international bank refusing to provide data on its haven branch depositor in a U.S. criminal case"
(10) Hans Schaffner "Die Aussenhandelspolitik der Schweiz im Zweiten Weltkrieg", Festschrift für Konrad Ilg, 1947 (reproduced in: NZZ 8 Feb.1997).
(11) "Portée des traités d'établissement", Direction de droit international publique JAAC 1977; Walter Stoffel "Die völkervertraglichen Gleichbehandlungs-Verpflichtungen der Schweiz gegenüber den Ausländern", Diss. Schulthess Polygraphischer Verlag Zürich 1979; Erich Reyhl "Ausländer hätten mehr Rechte - können sie aber nicht wahrnehmen", Basler Zeitung 11 August 1979; Iain Guest "Swiss Are Said to Deprive Foreigners of Due Rights", IHT 25 August 1979; H.A.Keller "Des traités internationaux 'grignotés' par l'administration", "La liberté d'établissement a favorisé l'essor économique de la Suisse", "Le Parlement n'est-il qu'une marionette au service de l'administration?", série, Journal de Genève 12, 14, 15 juillet 1980. http://www.solami.com/commercetreaties.htm
(12) Anton Keller "Disaffected Swiss Mount Attack on the Army", WSJE 23 Nov. 1989; "Twenty-First Century Europe", WSJE editorial, Anton Keller "The Swiss Won't Really 'Go It Alone'", WSJE 8 December 1992.
Extract from the "Acte portant reconnaissance et garantie de la neutralité
perpetuelle de la Suisse et de l'inviolabilité de son territoire"
of 20 November 1815, CPJI, serie C, no 17-1, vol.II, 1929, p.1190/2
(14) Werner Rings, "Raubgold aus Deutschland", Chronos Zurich 1996, p.129
(15) As discussed also in foreign journals (e.g. John Harlow, "Nazi art loot in British collections", Sunday Times, 16 March 1997) the practice of accepting legitimately-held and looted art pieces as payment for goods or services rendered is neither new nor limited to Switzerland. Not surprisingly either, the art collections still stored in the vaults of some big Swiss banks are reportedly considerable - to the point that some observers are suspecting a link between the recent acquisition of a major art auctioneer by one such safekeeping bank.
(16) This view - signaling a trap - draws some support from Christoph Blocher's resounding and credible referendum threat which already virtually blocked a taxpayer contribution to the holocaust fund initiated by the big Swiss banks (with arguments becoming the heir apparent of the popular late conservative James Schwarzenbach). By analogy, a protest vote against the envisioned constitutional change cannot be ruled out. See also Blocher's "Die Schweiz und der Zweite Weltkrieg - Eine Klarstellung", SVP-Vortrag held on 1 March 1997 in Zurich Oerlikon (www.blocher.ch).
Failure examples: Stephen Grey, "Swiss
'banked on murder' to keep Jewish cash", Sunday Times 9 March 1997; Tom
Bower, "Blood money", Macmillan
(18) Alan L. Otten "Swiss Banking Haven Losing Luster", WSJ 27 April 1982; W.L.Luetkens "The secrets of bank secrecy", FT 20 December 1984; Gary Putka "Swiss Banking Secrecy Isn't All It Used to Be, As Recent Cases Show - Pressure From Other Nations And Their Courts Brings Willingness to Give Data" WSJE 25 June 1986
(19) Christian Campiche "Les fonds juifs inspirent les médiateurs en vue d'un règlement définitif", Journal de Genève 19 novembre 1996. (english version)
(20) Under the title "Botschafter Jagmetti beleidigt die Juden - Geheimpapier: man kann dem Gegner nicht vertrauen", the Sonntags-Zeitung, unhelpfully, published on 26 January 1997 misleading extracts of Ambassador Jagmetti's confidential situation report of 19 December 1996.
(21) "250 mio pour un fonds d'aide aux victimes des nazis? 'C'est une rançon et du chantage'" interview du Président de la Confédération Hélvétique, Tribune de Genève 31 décembre 1997
Anton Keller, Secretary
box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2
Sehr geehrter Herr Bundespräsident,
Wir begrüssen die von Ihrem Vorgänger öffentlich geäusserten Bedenken und seine dezidierte Zurückweisung der Zumutungen und Pressionen ausländischer Kreise, welche im übrigen mit unseren Stellungnahmen dazu weitgehend übereinstimmen (siehe: Journal de Genève, 17.10., 19.11., Wall Street Journal Europe, 31.12.96). Und wir unterstützen die von Botschafter Jagmetti vorgetragene Analyse und bedauern nur, dass er das ihm angelastete Zitat "economic warfare" nicht schon von Anfang an richtig zugeordnet hat, nämlich: "Crime and Secrecy: the Use of Offshore Banks and Companies", Perm. Subcommittee on Investigations (Committee on Governmental Affairs) U.S. Senate S.prt 98-21, Feb. 1983, S.137.
Trotz anhaltend widerlicher Umstände ist und bleibt es uns ein Anliegen, die legitimen Interessen nicht nur der in- und ausländischen Anleger, sondern auch der jeweiligen schweizerischen Institute und des Finanzplatzes Schweiz insgesamt statutengemäss zu schützen und zu fördern, soweit dies in unserer Kraft steht. Wie unsere Arbeiten belegen tun wir dies seit unserer Gründung am 10.11.1982 (der beiliegende Pressespiegel dürfte Sie und Ihre Kollegen an ASDI-Vorstösse erinnern, welche von Ihnen als Parlamentarier meist mitgetragen worden sind und eigentlich auch heute noch - ja mehr denn je - Ihre Unterstützung verdienen). In diesem Sinne bieten wir Ihnen unsere Erfahrungen, unseren Goodwill und unsere Dienstleistungen zur Analyse und Überwindung der eingetretenen Bedrohung an. Wir denken dabei besonders an mögliche und auch zur Stärkung unseres Finanz- platzes wünschbare Funktionen, z.B. zur Entwicklung und Verwirklichung von Mechanismen, welche die Gewährleistung der Rückführung von ausser Acht gefallenen Vermögenswerten an den Kontoinhaber oder dessen Erben zum Ziele haben. Eine bundesrätliche Ermutigung könnte auch bewirken, dass betroffene Institute selbst die Initiative zu jeweils geeigneten Massnahmen ergreifen würden - allenfalls noch bevor der Gesetzgeber oder die Bankenaufsicht diese Zusatzpflicht präzisiert. Unsere vielfach ausgewiesene Forschungserfahrung könnte dabei nutzbringend angewandt werden, und wir wären bereit, unseren Beitrag zu leisten.
In der Hoffnung, Ihnen und den Betroffenen auf diesem Weg dienlich zu sein, sehen wir Ihrer wohlwollenden Prüfung unserer Anregung mit Interesse entgegen und verbleiben, mit der Versicherung unserer vorzüglichsten Hochachtung,
Wainwright, Legal Adviser
Swiss Investors Protection Association, Geneva - firstname.lastname@example.org - 1 January 1998
After years of concentrically organized attacks against Swiss bank secrecy and, more recently, against Switzerland directly for the roles played by its authorities and numerous Swiss banks during World War 2, the damage done starts to show, both here and abroad. The apparent key targets have already lost much of their luster and strength and are in the process of reorganization. Particularly Switzerland's biggest bank, the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), is about to disappear in a merger with the Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) behind a smokescreen called new economic world order.
In the case of these two venerable Swiss banks, the globalization thus invoked is seen to neither explain nor justify their planned merger - unless ill-considered short-term goals are to be pursued recklessly. E.g. for maximizing profits orrepossessing by stealth some "lost", others say "too-cleverly-by-half outsourced" family silver. The whole operation may even badly backfire, and promptly at that. Indeed, becoming and staying one of the world's biggest and most successful banks isn't a matter of figures alone. In fact, those who let themselves be impressed and even guided by them are in for some rude surprises. For they are merely ephemeral reflections of and are far from being themselves among the constitutive things which make a big bank, such as client confidence as well as staff competence and stability. And thehome country's political and cultural environment must continually provide for the organic achievement and maintenance of these two intangible key ingredients. All that now seems at risk.
Symptomatically, only a couple of weeks before the public announcement on December 8, the members of the administrative boards of UBS and SBC - Switzerland's healthy, successful and already its two biggest banks - were presented with a self-destruct merger formula. Shell-shocked from 24 months of media attacks, sanction threats and destabilizing compensation claims, they grasped what they were told to be a survival ring for the ensuing superbank - and they signed on the dotted line. Some of them may not even have fully realized that for 29 out of 36 of them, they had just signed away their well-padded board seats. And that for most of their reputed institutions' highly qualified employees worldwide - with immediately disastrous consequences for both the working climate there and client/banker relations - the SBC and UBS manager's Season's Greetings were thus to be salted with a notification of their possible job loss.
For these banks' foundations and client base to grow to present dimensions it took longer than modern Switzerland has existed (it celebrates its150th anniversary in 1998). But if this ill-advised, inconsiderate and myopic merger is allowed to go through, chances are that for all practical purposes, Switzerland will disappear as an effective market place and financial power house. Accordingly, not only numerous UBS and SBC employees and clients - some already with their feet - but most Swiss citizens, lawmakers and enterpreneurs are seen to vigorously reject or to have grave reservations about this particular merger (1). For what maybe appropriate and even indicated for a micro-economic entity may be - and in the case at hand certainly is - a formula for financial disaster and social and political turmoil if applied by an entity operating on the macro-economic scale. So what's really going on here?
The full story may never be told and in some important details the jury is still out. Nevertheless, there are some interesting questions which can be raised and which point to possible answers (for further details click here or go to our home page at www.solami.com/gold.htm ):
First: What lies behind notably the Swiss, British, European and U.S. authorities' apparent reluctance to seriously look into whether this SBC/UBS merger serves anybody but those out for a fast buck, acheap takeover and a rapid reshuffling of the cards, whether it is compatible with existing banking and anti-trust laws and regulations, and whether with a price tag of some US$ 5 billion and a world-wide cut of 13000 jobs, this mega fusion's certain tangible and intangible fincial, social and political costs do not irresponsibly outweigh the all-but certain projected benefits?
Second: After the Kennedy Administration, in 1963, found it opportune and possible to lend a helpful hand for UBS to become Switzerland's biggest bank by almost doubling its equity overnight with confiscated Nazi assets (see below), is there any reason to expect the Clinton Administration to be less generous - and interested - in order to guarantee a "successful" outcome of the proposed banking merger in as much as the United States is concerned? Concretely, is there any truth beneath the rumor here that there is enough leverage in the hands of the managers of these Swiss banks to keep the Clinton Administration from more than fig-leaf-wide standing in the way of this ominous, for Nazi-trail covering merger, even if members of the U.S. Congress were to raise serious questions?
Third: What's really behind this foreseeably self-destructive business of focusing the new bank's energies on exotic high-return, i.e. commensurately high-risk operations? Are these the proper lessons to be drawn from the demise of the Barings Bank and from Zurich's most recent bank disaster, the Rinderknecht Private Bank (2)?
Let's begin with the last question. At their press conference on 8 December, the managers of the future UBS projected a 15 to 20% annual return on equity - a multiple of their past performances (if, be it for reason of ignorance or hidden agendas, one continues to ignore the growth of their hidden reserves and related shareholder rights, the consideration of which, in the case of UBS and for the period of 1980 to 1997, would bring the real annual profits for holders of bearer shares on average to 15.85%, according to calculations furnished by UBS, thus casting a further shadow over some claims). In an environment of one-digit equity/earning ratios and productivity growth rates by the productive sectors - and be reminded: the natural growth of most trees is about 4% - both this aim and the quantum leap to get there represent a sure-fire recipe for further soap bubbles, financial disasters and corresponding disruptions. This is the more so in the cases of SBC and UBS as they have organically grown to their present, macro-economically relevant dimensions and as they have provided - and are expected, but may see fit not to continue to provide - traditional and typically solid Swiss banking functions on both a national and an international scale. True, some of these functions are less profitable. But the health of and prospects for a multitude of smaller Swiss banks clearly shows that they are not unprofitable if properly handled. Moreover, they are time-tested, ever more needed and the more appreciated the world over as they offer an effective defense against lex americana universalis.
Unwittingly - or linked with hidden agendas - such greedy aims inescapably favor and lead to shortsighted, inconsiderate and unusually risky management strategies, policies and decisions. Such a short-term rip-off shareholder value focus thus risks to expose and seriously undermine not only the foundations and client basis on which both SBC and UBS have been able to build over generations. But it also endangers the interests of their medium and long-term owners, i.e. the very shareholders which no company can do without if it is to last, and that requires it to act the more socially and politically responsible as it operates on a macro-economic scale.
The economic dimensions of the proposed merger go far beyond Switzerland. So much in fact that Switzerland's political class and even the Swiss government (wielding, if it wanted at all, only meek anti-trust powers) find themselves overtaken by events, cornered and unable to seriously investigate and, in the event, seek to attenuate if not prevent this merger's multiple and far-reaching consequences on Heidyland's social, economic and political fabric.
Of course, these economic - no less than the social and political - dimensions should mobilize rather than mute the powers that be. Yet, hand-wringing is what is so far seen to prevail in both the Swiss and the U.S. political establishment while serious and wide-open legal, economic and political questions remain unanswered. Revealingly, the managers of this outlandish mega deal are super confident that - once again - the U.S. Departmernt of Justice will put up no significant roadblocks, with the deal sailing through and the United Bank of Switzerland, warts and all, in place and operational next May. How come?
In spring 1996 we publicly discussed, and last year we published on the Internet, some still reverberating and more or less notorious links between Nazi Germany and either of the Big Swiss Banks. Others (3) have also chipped in on this old story of the origin of much of UBS' equity (4) which is seen to be linked to so-called former"enemy assets" (IG Farben, GAF, IG Chemie, Interhandel). Basically, these assets abroad were blocked by the WW2 allies. Yet some of them had escaped confiscation with the apparently witting help of the Swiss government acting with the knowledge, if not at the instigation, of U.S. authorities (prior to the United States entering WW2, John Foster Dulles, who later became Secretary of State under President Dwight D.Eisenhower, served as IG Farben's lawyer in the U.S. (5), while during WW2 his brother Allan Dulles headed the European bridgehead of the CIA's predecessor, the Office for Strategic Services in Berne). At any rate fully aware of this background and for reasons of its own, the Kennedy Administration later cut a deal with the Swiss - reportedly (5) by way of the good offices of Count Radziwill, a relative of President John F. Kennedy's wife, and UBS' then-President Alfred Schäfer, to be precise. Since the German reunification, trusteeship claims - e.g. by the IG Farben AG in liquidation and by the formerly East-German IG Farben - are seen to somewhat disturb this cozy arrangement. During the Cold War these claims could safely be ignored or considered as "settled". And before the Wall came down, simple stone-walling by the Swiss Federal Council still helped to effectively derail related proceedings before the German Courts (5). Since then, things have changed somewhat - even unwittingly producing some strange bedfellows,if the most outspoken and persistent foreign critics of UBS in particular are indeed acting spontaneously and in the true interest of the victim families they represent. At any rate, some recent - unwittingly ill-informed? - operations directed against UBS' management, policies and present ownership, particularly those from within Switzerland (Martin Ebner, etc.) also appear to make a lot more sense when considered on this background. But then again, who really cares what's really going on?
In the service of active investor protection for over 17 years, we are, of course, greatly concerned about the effects of ill-considered, excessively risky and probably failing mega mergers on the capital markets of Switzerland and abroad. We are all in favor of cutting dead wood, streamlining operations and combining resources - naturally not as ends in themselves but as means to serve the end-users with ever higher quality products at ever lower unit costs and with due consideration of all relevant factors. This being said, e.g. in the case of the Glass-Steagall Act, we have difficulty seeing the U.S. lawmakers' original intent and purpose still heeded with ever bigger mergers at the heart of the economy. If that's what deregulation and globalization essentially is reduced to and made to be, with healthy, innovative and productive forces sacrificed inconsiderately to this trendy fashion of the latest passing guru, the powers that be are inviting contagious financial disasters and political upheavals for some time to come. I.e. until the pendulum will have swung back to less self-serving and destructive, back to more human-centered rational forms of organizing the world's productive forces.
In the case at hand, we are also concerned that opportunities to get to the bottom of the Nazi legacy and to obtain prompt and fair settlements on the outstanding issues will again be squandered. We worry that present efforts will in effect be squashed behind old and new smokescreens - perversely once again on the back of many holocaust victims and their families. As indicated above, we are not satisfied that less competition for banking and financial services and ever bigger and more anonymous trustees for one's savings is in either Swiss or any foreign citizen's interests. And we are thus a little worried about some related sheer, ripple and stampede effects on the Swiss banking and financial services industry no less than on that of other European countries and the U.S. in particular. Which is what we understand the EU Commission to look at right now for their jurisdiction, and which we would like to see also with regard to other eventually affected markets.
Previously considered mergers on either side of the Atlantic may also serve as a source of inspiration (e.g. Aerospatiale, Boeing/McDouglas, BT/MCI, etc.). In some of those cases, timely raised questions by alert lawmakers in particular have helped to overcome Titanic blindness and to improve merger conditions or even prevented inadequately prepared and balanced plans from going through. As pointed out above, some questions related to this dangerous and anyway un-Swiss Babylonian Tower project are still unanswered, and their timely examination may still spare all of us the havoc which is seen to be under way under a fashionable but ill-considered, misleading and even blinding frenzy called globalization.
some authoritative critical voices speaking
out also for many professionals:
Daniel Zuberbühler, Director of the Swiss Banking Commission, interviewed by Wolfgang Hafner, "Es hat sich alles zugespitzt",Tages-Anzeiger, 23.Dezember 1997;
Hans-Rudolf Böckli, "Der Gesetzgeber vor dem Konzentrationsproblem", Wirtschaft und Recht, #2, 1961, S.95ff., "Zum Konzentrationsproblem", ibid. #3, S.196ff;
Beat Brenner, "Der Meinungswandel",Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 9.Dezember 1997;
Hans-Peter Platz, "Kommt jetzt die Firma Schweiz?", Basler Zeitung, 9.Dezember 1997;
Thierry Meyer, "Qui nous dit aujourd'hui que les grandes banques ne se trompent pas sur le demain?", Nouveau Quotidien, 9 décembre 1997;
Alain Fabarez, "Délocalisation rampante",AGEFI, 9 décembre 1997;
Antoine Exchaquet, "Fusion logique et ... tragique!",Le Matin, 9 décembre 1997;
Holger Stelzner, "Bankenmonopoly",Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9.Dezember 1997;
Daniel Hug, "UBS - für wen?",Der Bund, 9.Dezember 1997;
Ignace Jeannerat, "Mammouth écrase les petits",Journal de Genève et Gazette de Lausanne, 9 décembre 1997;
Helga Einecke, "Wettlauf der Banken im Euroland",
Bernadette Calonega, "Das Schweizer 'Power Game'",Süddeutsche Zeitung, 9.Dezember 1997;
Christoph Blocher, befragt von Peter Morf, "Globales Denken ist notwendig", Peter Bohnenblust, "Weiterdenken", Erich Zoller, "Bedauerlicher Liquiditätsverlust - Als Folge der Grossbankenfusion verliert der Kapitalmarkt einen wichtigen Mitspieler", KK, "Eine neue Marktkraft mit alten Problemen - Auswirkungen der Fusion UBS/SBV auf den Hypothekar- und Immobilienmarkt",Finanz + Wirtschaft, 10.Dezember 1997;
Kurt Speck, "Ein Graben in der Bankenlandschaft - neu geschürte Ängste nach der Megafusion",Alain Zucker, "Fusion ist ... wenn jeder gegen jeden kämpft - Die Praxis zeigt:Aktionäre, Mitarbeiter und Kunden profitieren nicht",Peter Vollmer, "Nur noch wenige (auswärtige) Chefetagen entscheiden über die Existenz unserer Betriebe", Peider Signorell, "Gier tut nicht gut", mn, "Was die Analysten meinen",Weltwoche, 11.Dezember 1997;
Gérard Le Roux, "Une fusion explicite",GHI (Genève Home Informations), 18 décembre 1997;
André Vallana, "En trois ans, la face des banques suisses a changé",Jeudi Économie #206, Journal de Genève et Gazette de Lausanne, 18 décembre 1997;
Werner R. Müller, "Verspieltes Vertrauenskapital",Basler Zeitung, 29.Dezember 1997;
Jean-Paul Coeytaux, "A la merci des pirates",Le Matin, 2 janvier 1998;
Boris Borcic, "UBS + SBS = CH - GE", GHI, 8 janvier, 1998;
Jean-René Hulmann, "Lettre à ma banque", Journal de Genève et Gazette de Lausanne, 11 janvier 1998
(2) Res Strehle, "Das Schwarze Loch", Tages-Anzeiger Magazin, #46, 15.November 1997
(3) e.g. Sebastian Speich, "Geheimakte bringt SBG ins Schleudern - Nazi-Vermögen: Bundesrat muss jetzt die brisante Interhandel-Akte öffnen", "Verschlusssache Interhandel",CASH #4, 24.Januar 1997; Shraga Elam, "Interhandel: Vertuschen nützt nichts mehr", CASH #10, 7.März 1997; Daniel Hug, "Pourquoi le dossier <UBS-Interhandel> est-il gardé secret depuis plus de cinquante ans?" Nouveau Quotidien, 17 mars 1997
not to speak of the Nazi-linked Eidgenössische
Bank which UBS swallowed in the wake of WW2: Shraga Elam, "Eine Leiche
im Keller der UBS - Die Eidgenössische Bank, 1945 von der SBG
übernommen, spielte eine zentrale Rolle bei den Nazi-Geschäften",
CASH #45, 7.November 1997
(5) Shraga Elam, "Verschlungene Pfade zum grossen Geld - Auf welchen Umwegen die Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft an die Gelder der I.G.-Farben kam und dadurch zur Nummer 1 unter den Schweizer Grossbanken wurde", CASH #10, 7.März 1997
Le Roux, Genève
Home Informations (GHI), 30 avril 1998
GHI a souvant tiré la sonnette d'alarme.
Les attaques contre la Suisse ont des raisons purement financières.
Le très sérieux journal financier l'AGEFI n'écrit pas autre chose.
Voici l'éditorial de notre confrère de l'AGEFI qui décrit très exactement les vraies raisons de l'attaque contre la Suisse et de son déroulement inévitable et que GHI essayait de vous prédire depuis 3 ans.
<Sa conclusion tombe comme un fruit mûr: "Faîtes descendre les Suisses de leurs montagnes et joindre le monde" (3). Le ton fait cruellement penser aux années 60, aux virulentes attaques contre l'impérialisme soviétique. Il s'agit clairement d'une entreprise de déstabilisation psychologique conduite dans le but de niveler le droit suisse, l'adapter non à la mondialisation mais à l'américanisation de la planète. Le butin visé par l'attaque n'est pas mince. Il est d'ailleurs cité par l'éditorialiste, les 2000 milliards de dollars d'actifs privés gérés dans notre pays. Toute personne qui a suivi les méandres de notre justice ces trois dernières années comprend la tactique de l'artichaut employée à propos de la place financière suisse.
<Citons brièvement quelques-uns des principes disparus au nom de la morale et du politiquement correct, l'émergence du principe d'extra-territorialité, la reconnaissance d'un principe de responsabilité collective, l'inversion de la charge de la preuve (...). Notre droit est de plus en plus "certifié américain". Reste, dernier village gaulois à résister à l'envahisseur romain, la levée du secret bancaire pour des raisons fiscales.
<Etonnamment, ce genre de discours trouve un écho certain en Suisse, aidé par un sentiment de culpabilité entretenu par les médias à propos de notre histoire. On citera par exemple l'émission sur le rôle des Etats-Unis pendant la Deuxième Guerre et son attitude scandaleuse par rapport au peuple juif, que l'on préfère passer au milieu de la nuit, alors que le comportement de certains Suisses, tout aussi détestable, tombe par hasard à une heure de grande écoute. La campagne psychologique marche à un rythme étonnant. L'affaiblissement moral poursuit son bonhomme de chemin. Mais lorsqu'un journal comme le WSJ pose la question de l'utilité d'un pays, cela démontre que les attaques sur le système financier vont redoubler de force.
<Depuis la fin de la guerre froide, la stratégie du pouvoir politique américain, et l'ensemble de ses instruments, a été réorientée à des fins économiques. Sous les traits de la morale, la première puissance au monde est parvenue à changer notre droit, à revisiter nos principes, comme celui de la protection de la sphère privée. Cette entreprise rencontre un franc succès. Le politiquement correct est même accepté par certains banquiers qui croient au miroir aux alouettes d'une stratégies on-shore banking dans le monde, c'est-à-dire d'une gestion de fortunes privées dans le pays même du client. L'espoir fait vivre.> C'est signé Emmanuel Garessus
Chaque mot de cet article exprime les craintes que je vous ai répétées à des dizaines de fois. La semaine dernière, après deux jours de séminaire sur les lois imposées par la Suisse aux banquiers et gérants de fortune concernant le blanchissement de l'argent, je ne peux que confirmer que quasiment tout ce qui peut faire écrouler une partie importante de l'économie suisse est en place. Si ces dispositions sont destinées, médiatiquement parlant, à simplement réduire le blanchissement de l'argent sale, elle s'appliquent en réalité à toute opération ou maintien d'argent considéré un crime pénal par la loi suisse. Chaque banquier ou gérant a le devoir de le dénoncer s'il a des soupçons fondés (et ceci n'est pas défini), il est tenu de connaître non seulement son client mais la bonne marche de ses affaires. Il ne peut pas se contenter d'une explication verbale sur la provenance des fonds ni de son affaire mais il est désormais tenu de les vérifier. Vous voyez comme c'est pratique ou possible? Il est dans l'obligation s'il a des soupçons de faire bloquer le compte de son client aussi bien que de le dénoncer sinon il est considéré comme complice. Si par hasard, on trouve après maintes recherches "approfondies" que le client est innocent, le gestionnaire n'est pas protégé par la loi contre une action juridique pour atteinte à l'honneur etc. Le client devient en passant ex-client. Génial? La Suisse peut porter le sigle Blanche Neige? Les gangsters peuvent aller ailleurs! Notre virginité est notre renom?
Eh bien mes chers lecteurs, ce procédé poussé par les USA n'est que le début des plus grands hold-ups jamais imaginés. Les diverses allocutions, durant le séminaire AGEFI, ont bien fait sentir que la Suisse, "poussée par certains partis politiques" va bientôt voter pour que le délit de ne pas déclarer tous ses revenus ou ses avoirs soit un crime (à ne pas confondre avec la fraude fiscale où on truque un bilan ou une facture, ce qui est déjà pénal). De fait, tout argent déposé par les étrangers pour éviter la rapacité du régime fiscal de leur pays et qui est considéré comme un crime chez eux devient un crime en Suisse. Ainsi le banquier suisse et gérant deviendra complice donc bagnard si un juge suisse trouve que la définition d'un crime fiscal par Stalin, Hitler, Wilson, ou Olav Palme est raisonnable. Fabuleux! Ils le méritent. OK.
La vraie fonction du secret bancaire
Mais lorsque les banques suisses n'offriront plus aucune sécurité, elles perdront aussi leur attrait. Les impôts, les frais bancaires déjà très lourds et applicables aux clients les pousseront vers d'autres pays et c'est là où les USA feront en sorte que les lois fiscales, chez eux, soient infiniment plus agréables pour l'étranger. Ainsi la chasse d'eau sera tirée!
Ce qui a été soigneusement écarté, c'est la vraie fonction du secret bancaire c'est-à-dire la sauvegarde du patrimoine de millions de gens qui à tour de rôle dans le monde ont été spoliés chez eux par des politiciens devenus fous et qui ont trouvé une bouée de sauvetage en Suisse. Ce ne sont pas seulement les riches, mais les modestes et surtout avant tout la politique suisse qui a servi de garde-fou contre l'excès de certaines politiques ruineuses et qui jusqu'à présent continue de fonctionner.
C'est bien ce dernier point qui est visé à
la fin et c'est bien cela qui vous concerne tous petits et grands ici et
ailleurs car mis à part ceux qui ont été achetés
par les USA c'est vous chers lecteurs, petits ou moyens qui paierez les
pots cassés. (Les grands partiront). Si dans les articles
de GHI on insiste tellement sur le déroulement que nous avons décrit
ce n'est pas pour pavoiser d'avoir eu raison mais il ne faut absolument
pas que lorsque l'inévitable arrivera, ce soient des innocents individuels
ou une communauté, même si certains ont été
manipulés, qui soient tenus responsables pour une politique bien
précise d'un Etat.
L'ICONOCLAST OBSERVE (30 avril 1998):
1. Voire aussi la réponse du publiciste suisse Klaus Stoelker, publiée dans l'édition européenne du Wall Street Journal du 28 avril 1998.
2. Curieusement, ce reproche tombe en parallèle et se trouve accentué dans le dernier rapport du notoire Comité 8 de l'autrement très sérieuse Organisation pour la coopération et le développement économique, OCDE, de Paris qui - après son échec total, dans les années 80, avec son projet orwellien INTERFIPOL d'une convention d'assistance administrative en matière fiscale - persiste à confondre la criminelle évasion fiscale avec l'évitement fiscale bien que ce dernier constitue un facteur essentiel de l'économie du marché et de la souveraineté fiscale de tout Etat indépendant et digne de ce nom; tant que les autorités politiques n'auront pas effectuées les changements qui s'imposent dans le cahier de charges et dans l'orientation de ce comité de l'OCDE, ce sera lui et non le secret bancaire autrichien, luxembourgois, suisse ou autre qui causera des effets pervers et en effet fortement dommageables non seulement pour les fiscs mais surtout pour les contribuables des pays qui continueront à souscrire à des thèses opportunistiques et depuis longtemps discréditées de quelques apparatchiks myopes et irréductibles - voirPaul Coudret et Antoine Bosshard, "L'OCDE s'attaque au 'braconnier' fiscal suisse",Le Temps, 29 avril, 1998.
3. En effet, on est loin où, dans les années 80, sous la direction de Seth Lipsky et de Peter Keresztes, le Wall Street Journal Europe (WSJE) et d'autres journaux étrangers - mais non les grands journaux suisses proches des banques, et très peu d'autres journalistes suisses - avaient mené combat contre les différentes lex americana et - en vain - ont imploré les parlementaires et banquiers suisses de se dresser sans vergogne contre toutes pressions émanent de la SEC et d'autres sources américaines, et de maintenir avec dignité, détermination et force leurs spécificités et leurs cultures bancaires, y compris notamment le secret bancaire suisse. Or, il se trouve que le WSJE n'est toujours pas sorti des chiffres rouges et que quelques membres de la famille des propriétaires pourraient donc être ouverts à des nouvelles idées. Voilà donc une occasion pour une nouvelle alliance vers de nouveaux horizons qui s'ouvre aux vrais entrepreneurs visionnaires et soucieux de l'avenir du marché financier suisse.
Philip Wainwright, Legal Advisor
- 28.Juni 1998
zum vorzeitigen Vollzug der UBS-Fusion
Wir begrüssen die in diesem Vorhaben eingeflossenen Bemühungen zum rechtsstaatlichen Abbau von Altlasten als Voraussetzung für eine erfolgreiche Firmenzukunft. Wir stellen jedoch fest, dass es auf dem eingeschlagenen Weg bisher offenbar nicht gelungen ist - und vielleicht auch nicht gelingen kann -, die berechtigten Interessen der betroffenen in- und ausländischen Kreise befriedigend abzudecken. Dies betrifft nicht nur Kunden- und Mitarbeiteranliegen, sondern auch Interessen von Aktionären insbesondere der Schweizerischen Bankgesellschaft.
Mehrere Verfahren sind noch vor Basler und Zürcher Gerichten hängig. Sie scheinen nun durch den Fusionsvollzug präjudiziert zu sein, was auch mit unserem Rechtsempfinden unverträglich wäre. So liegt z.B. in bezug auf die Durchführung einer Sonderprüfung und eine vorläufige Sperrung des Handelregisters bereits eine Berufung ans Bundesgericht vor. Uns ist jedenfalls kein bundesrätlicher Notrechts-Entscheid bekannt, welcher die rechtshemmende Wirkung aufheben könnte, welche diesem und anderen Rechtsschritten von Gesetzes wegen zukommt. Soweit wir dies beurteilen können ist es das Ziel all dieser Rechtsschritte gewesen, vor Vollzug der geplanten SBG/SBV-Fusion die zahlreichen Vorwürfe von Verlustvertuschungen, Bilanzmanipulationen, illegaler Kapitalherabsetzung und weiterer schwerwiegender Gesetzes- und Statutenverletzungen richterlich überprüfen und allenfalls ausräumen zu lassen. Dass dieses auch dem Finanzplatz und Rechtsstaat Schweiz gut anstehende Ziel wirksam hintertrieben werden konnte, gibt zu mehr als blossem Bedauern Anlass. Und es ist leider auch kein gutes Omen für ein sich als Träger der schweizerischen Wirtschaft und als Gütezeichen schweizerischer Werte verstehendes neueingekleidetes Finanzinstitut mit weltweiter Ausstrahlung.
Die noch stärker als bisher auf das Ausland ausgerichtete und davon abhängige neue UBS bedarf der Lizenzierung durch die zuständigen Behörden des jeweiligen Gastlandes. Wie auch hierzulande üblich, sind solche Lizenzen regelmässig davon abhängig, dass die Heimlizenz des Mutterhauses gültig und zweifelsfrei in Übereinstimmung mit den Gesetzes des Stammlandes zustandegekommen ist. Nachdem einschlägige Fragen vor Schweizer Gerichten derzeit geprüft werden - und der Ausgang einer rechtsstaatlich einwandfreien Prüfung dieser Fragen alles andere als gesichert gelten kann -, muss damit gerechnet werden, dass ausländische Bankenaufsichtsbehörden den laufenden Vorgängen besondere Aufmerksamkeit zuteil lassen und allenfalls entsprechende Konsequenzen ziehen werden. Dies vielleicht sogar als Ersatz für andere, vom Standpunkt des Völkerrechts eher umstrittene Massnahmen und Auflagen. Auch unter diesem Gesichtswinkel könnte der in der obigen Berufung ans Bundesgericht vom 25.Juni 1998 nachzulesende Schlussatz sich noch als guter Rat erweisen:
PRESS RELEASE - June 29, 1998
Unduly Hasty UBS Merger
If figures alone could reliably tell the story, UBS, the "Swiss" mega bank emerging from combining the resources of the venerable Swiss Bank Corporation and the Union Bank of Switzerland, initially had a lot going for it. But in finance, too, even adding one and one sometimes is less than two. Already UBS's combined shareholder capital is some 20% smaller than the sum total of their constituant parts. Its competence backbone, i.e. its work force, is planned to be slashed by some 13'000. And the so far successfully hidden losses of Switzerland's biggest banks is yet another story. But even worse news may be in the offing on account of intangible, notably legal factors involving and eventually affecting such key values as reliability, strict observation of the rule of law and client confidence, all of which make up a bank's standing and prospect. For indications are that Swiss authorities and even Swiss courts have been bending over backwards to accomodate this company merger, warts and all, and to pay little more than lip service to Switzerland's time-honored banking culture and legal traditions.
Since the announcement of the mega bank merger, small shareholders have valiantly fought what they see as a generally damaging aberration - not least because of the already difficult-to-master Year 2000 computer bug. They have done so in- and outside of Switzerland on both the political and the legal front. The local and foreign press has been awash with allegations of past and present management wrong-doings, huge losses in the derivatives and the Asian credit market, manipulation of the merger balance statement, illegal shareholder capital reduction and other serious violations of both Swiss law and the bank statutes. Several court cases are thus still pending in Zürich, Basel and Lausanne. These cases are understood to have been brought in order to reliably clarify these allegations before the planned merger may be consumed. A Swiss first which is well under way - i.e. a class-action suit, requiring the support of at least 2 million UBS shareholder capital - seeks to have a juge order a special investigation. Also, the petitioners have regularly asked the Court for a provisional prohibition to block the registration of the new UBS in the registry of commerce. Some procedures are understood to even benefit from a suspensive effect clause provided by the law, and the Swiss Federal Council is not known to have used its emergency powers for suspending the Swiss Constitution in order to allow the UBS merger to go through. Yet, somehow, the powers that be seem to have managed to make things happen anyway - as if Switzerland were a Banana republic.
The new UBS is planned to be particularly active outside of Switzerland. It will be able to do so only on the basis of corresponding host country banking licences. As is also customary for foreign banks operating in Switzerland, the host country's licence regularly depends on the home country licence's continued validity as well as its acquisition in full harmony with the home country's laws. So far, the UBS has not shown an interest to have Swiss courts reliably and promptly examine and eventually put aside the many serious allegations surrounding its merger project. In as much as they have still confidence in Swiss courts and supervisory institutions, foreign banking regulators may be expected to follow the current Swiss court procedures attentively, perhaps even encourage the UBS to be more cooperative at least on that front. Lest they prefer to resort to more direct constraining measures, such as sanctions which, of course, are seldom mutually helpful and often violate not only the rules of international law but undermine a long-standing cooperation which has proven its worth and mutual benefit.