TJN on Switzerland: “Shallow, ignorant and short-sighted”

   0   0 Blog

We have just received the following email from Concerned American, resident in Switzerland.  Her/his wrath is directed at our director, John Christensen, who was interviewed on CNN yesterday and – amongst other things – discussed the latest report on Swiss banks from the US Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations.

Our correspondent cites the Financial Secrecy Index, which ranks Switzerland at number one, but also notes that we highlighted the dominant position of the UK secrecy jurisdictions which, erm, does slightly undermine her/his argument that we constantly pick on plucky little Switzerland.

We are quite used to criticisms of our Financial Secrecy Index – nearly always made in general terms, without reference to specifics. In our experience, when we get down to the nitty-gritty details of what the index actually does and says, the objections melt away. Still, in the interest of balance, we feel we should publish Concerned American’s concerns in full.

Now read on . . .

From: Concerned American, Swiss resident
Sent: 28 February 2014 12:57
To:  info
Subject: Unfair focus on Switzerland

After seeing Mr Christensen’s interview on CNN, I have to remark on how shallow, ignorant, and short sighted he seems. When speaking about tax havens, he frequently referred to Switzerland. However, despite the incorrect assumption of him, and many others, who speak without fully understanding, Swiss banks have very rigid “know your customer” internal regulations. This is precisely why organizations such as World Check exist. Swiss banks may have secrecy, but what they really have is a stable environment coupled with financial expertise. Why worry about which clients you have? Reputation. Are there injustices? Yes, but to the extent that Mr. Christensen and others would like the public to believe, no.

So who is among the most corrupt and one of the largest tax havens in the world? The United States! With LLCs that hide non resident alien information to states such as Delaware and Nevada, there are billions kept in the US. The bottom line is that the US doesn’t care about tax fairness, etc. It cares about keeping wealth (not just taxes) in the US. Why the focus on Switzerland? Where is a third of the oil traded and about a quarter of the world’s wealth managed? You guessed it, Switzerland. The US wants a share of the pie, plain and simple.

Now if there’s any doubt as to where corruption is largest, consider the net worth of members of US congress. Most of them have net worths in excess of $100 million. How do you think these members of congress accumulate all their wealth? Are they all such brilliant business people, entrepreneurs, etc? No, not really. What they are is a means to make what other people and companies want, become a reality….in exchange for a “gift” of course.

I’m not in the financial services sector in any way shape or means. I am a US citizen that [sic] is patriotic yet I am a legal resident of Switzerland. I can tell you, the people of Switzerland are fed up with foreign governments bulling [sic] them to give up what their legal and cultural values entitle them. The beginning of the pushback? The recent vote to stop massive immigration of mainly EU citizens into Switzerland.

In the future, expect that there will be more measures taken to be treated fairly and without bullying by those jealous of this little small country.

Oh, by the way, since you are from the UK, maybe you should start by looking at the your own country (which I know you have acknowledged is the #1 financial secrecy organization. Next time you’re on CNN, use examples such as the UK, Cayman Islands, etc. At least you won’t SEEM quite as biased as you are against Switzerland.

Good day.

We could add any number of points to this. First, as he points out, as he acknowledges, we have fingered the UK as the most important single player in the offshore system of tax havens. Second, to argue the Swiss position of ‘we are a small plucky country standing up to big bullies’ is to misunderstand what is going on here. For one thing, this is not a battle between one country and another. It is a battle between the world’s wealthiest élites and ordinary citizens and taxpayers, the world over. And Swiss banks are firmly on the side of the élites against the citizens.

Not only that, but countries do indeed have sovereign rights to set up their tax and secrecy systems as they see fit.

But when those tax and secrecy systems attack and undermine the laws of other jurisdictions, don’t come crying to us when those jurisdictions take aggressive countermeasures to defend themselves.

In the case of the United States, Swiss bankers have been strutting about in the lion’s den. Now they are complaining that there is a lion in there.

And another thing. If Switzerland really wants us to believe it is no longer a secrecy jurisdiction, then why not do the honourable thing? Repeal the banking secrecy laws. Stop victimising whistleblowers on criminality.  And issue a full national apology to the world’s citizens.

Related Posts

New estimates reveal the extent of tax avoidance by multinationals

Price Waterhouse CoopersNew figures published today by the Tax Justice Network provide a country-level breakdown of the estimated tax losses to profit shifting by multinational companies. Applying a methodology developed by researchers at the International Monetary Fund to an improved dataset, the results indicate global losses of around $500 billion a year. The figures appear in a […]


Banking Secrecy in China, its related territories and Taiwan

Hong Kong from Sky 100Foreword. The Tax Justice Network is a non partisan network of experts working towards transparency, so we do not take any position about countries’ territorial and political claims. However, we do expect countries with a de jure (legal) or de facto (in practice) influence over other territories, to take responsibility for their power. We point […]


Is tax avoidance at the heart of Ireland’s economic miracle?

AIB International Finance Centre Dublin - By Estoy Aquí (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsComing out of the economic crisis Ireland was one of the best performing economies, with GDP growth rates of 8.5% in 2014 and an extraordinary 26.3% in 2015. But how much of this economic activity was real, and how much a fiction created by Ireland’s tax haven status? A new paper by Heike Joebges of the University […]


New Report: HMRC’s “Building our Future” programme

bigben-mcbigbenfaceYesterday the Tax Justice Network was in the UK Parliament to launch a report it co-produced with the Public and Commercial Services Union. The report, entitled “HMRC, Building an Uncertain Future” is a study of HMRC’s (the UK tax authority) reform plans which it is calling “Building our Future”. The report published yesterday analysed the […]


Financial secrecy in football: time for action

bigben-mcbigbenfaceEveryone has known for years that football is rotten to the core and financial secrecy is at the heart of the problem. Why then is no one doing anything about it? This post from the Offshore Game project originally features in the Independent. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top