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Scrutiny
  
National treasure
Why Hitler, Osama love the Swiss
09/07/2009

On June 15, 2009, Mr Andreas Baum (Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria) made it clear that his country was not all about stolen money and the country will try to make it possible for that money to be given back to the rightful owners.

That kind of sums up what Switzerland has stood for since more than three quarters of a century. Over the past years, Switzerland has shamelessly matured into a vibrant investment service for laundered money of tax evaders, criminals and the likes. Recently, the Swiss bank UBS accepted deliberately hiding money of thousands of American tax evaders from IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and agreed to pay a fine of $780 million to settle the US Justice Department’s criminal suit against UBS. The US government also has accused the Swiss government of protecting a bank that knowing handled the moneys of Osama Bin Laden.

Under the insolent garb of ‘Swiss secrecy laws’, Swiss banks for ages have additionally helped many corrupt individuals and politicians from third world countries in hiding their illegally gained money. As per Global Financial Integrity, Swiss banks receive nothing less than $900 billion from developing countries with $150 billion from Africa alone. Contrast this with aid received by developing countries from the developed world that is merely $100 billion annually with about $10-billion going to Africa.

Recently, after 18 years of struggle, Nigeria convinced Switzerland to return $700 million of $5 billion (minted from embezzlement of Nigeria’s oil wealth) which was hidden in the Swiss banks. Similarly, it was only recently after 18 years of legal bickering, that Philippines received $700m – and Mexico $74 million (after 12 years of arguments) – from Swiss banks. Countries like India have been for ages trying to force the Swiss government to reveal names of Indian account holders (many of them politicians) who keep their ‘black money’ in Swiss banks.

That a country can be so shameless despite global admonition is shocking. In WWII, everybody kept wondering why Hitler never invaded Switzerland despite easy access... Well, we seem to know the answer to that very well now.

By:- Sray Agarwal
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