Friday, May 16, 2008

Swiss banker blows whistle on industry

Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of the Swiss bank Julius Baer, has lodged a case with the European Court of Human Rights against Switzerland's rules on bank secrecy. A correspondent in Berlin told us this:

I went to the press conference of Rudolf Elmer in Berlin yesterday, that's the former manager of Swiss bank Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands. The news was that he filed a complained with the European Court of Human Rights against the Swiss banking secrecy law saying that it deprives him of a fair trial. If he produced documents to prove that he was fired unjustifiedly he would automatically violate the secrecy law, he claims. He's already been prosecuted for breach of that law (because of offshore customer data that appeared on, and says that he's been denied access to records and a lawyer during interrogations because Zurich law provides for that when banking secrecy is in question. (See more on Elmer's site, ).

The Financial Times said this:

He (Elmer) said he would present the Strasbourg-based court with internal protocols and evidence of false documentation by the bank for clients "showing that (Julius Baer) knew it was encouraging tax evasion". However, unlike the Liechtenstein case, he would not present, or sell, the bank account data as his target was the "Swiss system of bank secrecy", not individual customers.

Swiss bankers, like those in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Jersey, and so many other corrupt jurisdictions, are conducting acts of aggression against other sovereign nation states. They argue that it is up to the other jurisdictions to police their taxpayers. This is like arguing that it is fine to be, and even actively to support, drugs production and smuggling from your territory: it is up to other countries to police their drugs laws. These arguments are quite clearly not acceptable.

Those involved in propagating Swiss harm around the world ought to be feeling nervous. Yesterday, Richard Murphy noted this:

I hear rumours from Switzerland. Apparently the indictment of a UBS banker in the USA on charges relating to tax evasion through Liechtenstein has made the banking communtiy somewhat bervous. Some Swiss banks have apparently ordered travel restrictions for the USA. No more Florida sunbathing and New York Christmas shopping for Swiss bankers, I suspect.

More generally, the global mood is now changing decisively, in terms of reining in the arrogance of those who feel they can use the loopholes and interstices of the international financial system to place themselves above the law. According to David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of a new book about the world's wealthy superclass:

"The power of financial elites had been evident in their ability to argue that global financial markets and markets in new securities should remain “self-regulating” (how many of them would hop into a self-regulating taxicab?), then when crisis comes – as with mortgage-backed securities – these champions of less government involvement have then persuaded governments to cauterise their wounds. Now, however, there are encouraging, if preliminary, signs of a push towards more effective collaboration between governments – the first steps towards creating the much needed checks on global markets that exist within nations. This could erode the agility of financial elites to play governments off against each other, with the weakest regulator setting the rules."

This is all good news. Let's hope the European Court of Human rights helps properly expose Swiss banking for what it is: a forum for global corruption, crime and generalised abuse.


Blogger Naif said...

It's funny how those how don't actually make the money always feel they have the right to tell those who do earn it how to spend it.

10:57 am  

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