MY, OH MY, OH MY. 

Where is this going now, and is there even an iota of adult supervision anymore in that ever more aberrantly behaving and bizarre City Upon a Hill?

What do you think about this? Is there a cure? Your comments and suggestions would be most welcome.

CHILDREN OF SWISS ASSET MANAGER DETAINED FOR SIX HOURS FOR QUESTIONING BY US OFFICIALS

by Petros, IsaacBrockSociety, 6 August 2012.

Swiss newspapers are reporting that two children of a Swiss asset manager were interrogated by US customs as to the whereabouts of their father, what their father did, whether their father made trips to the US, etc. They were entering the US to visit their grandparents. Sorry, interrogation of children looks like something from the Gestapo playbook.

The original article below is in French. Here is a translation of the first couple paragraphs by Innocente:

“What a holiday! On a beautiful Sunday in May, two teenagers from Geneva and children of an asset manager took off from Geneva Airport. They left for the U.S. to visit their grandparents, who live in that country, while their parents remained in Switzerland. Upon arriving at the airport of a large city *, these two minors were given special attention of police. “Where is your dad? What does your dad do for a living? Has your dad ever worked in the United States? “Both young men were subject to these questions and others for six hours at the offices of the police. They weree not allowed to contact people outside. Throughout the questioning their parents and grandparents received no information. These facts, reported by a Swiss lawyer, suggest what a large part of the Swiss financial center have been fearing: the U.S. authorities have already begun to exploit the (employment) data delivered in April by five banks….”

Here is a partial translation thanks to Jefferson Tomas:

The banks recommend that their current and former employees whose names were transmitted to the other side of the Atlantic avoid going to the US. But such a precaution seems to be quite insufficient, considering the number of extradition treaties that exist.

“I encourage my clients not to leave Switzerland” said Douglas Hornung, Attorney at Law in Geneva, who represents approximately 40 employees of banks involved in this matter.

The disagreements go much further than a limited choice of vacation destinations, or family visits that must be postponed. Few banks in Switzerland or elsewhere, perhaps none at all, are interested in employing a “listed” bank employee from one of the 5 banks who gave data to the Department of Justice in order to avoid criminal prosecution. Careers risk being derailed because of this.

“Banks are not afraid to expose their employees to potentially devastating consequences” wrote another newspaper “Le Temps” last month.

A double unknown makes the situation worse: nobody knows how the Yankee justice will use the information that they have harvested. Thousands of people are unaware that they are involved. [Sounds like many USPs]

“If one had to inform everybody, one would be talking about thousands of persons…”, said the CEO of Credit Suisse, Brady Dougan [He is American I believe], “…If an employee is concerned, they can ask for information.” Ex-employees are only rarely informed.

Doubts about legality

This matter has caused accusations of treason in the Swiss financial world. Opinions of [legal] experts have only reinforced this. The Swiss Federal Commissioner on Data Privacy, Hanspeter Thür, has continually repeated his doubts about the legality of delivering employee data to the American administration.

“The employer does not have the right to reveal the names of its employees. If it is compelled to do so, it must inform the employees, and cover any damages and legal fees”, warns Thomas Geiser, Professor of Law at the University of Saint-Gallen.

Huge Inconsistency

The five banks implicated in the matter can certainly defend themselves. The Federal Council formally authorized the transfer to the DOJ of identity data concerning the 10’000 employees. This is inconsistent: in 1997, in exactly the same sort of circumstances, two banks asked for a similar authorization to respond to DOJ requests. The Federal Council refused it at that time considering that Swiss banking laws prevented such.

COMBAT ANTI-FRAUDE FISCALE – LES DEUX ADOS D’UN GESTIONNAIRE DE FORTUNE GENEVOIS INTERPELLES AUX ETATS-UNIS

Par Philippe Rodrik, Tribune de Genève, 6 Aout 2012.

Les autorités américaines commencent à exploiter des données sur plus de 10 000 employés de banques suisses.

Dans les aéroports américains, les fonctionnaires sont particulièrement vigilants

Quelles vacances! Un beau dimanche de mai, deux adolescents genevois, enfants d’un gestionnaire de fortune, décollent de Genève Aéroport. Ils partent aux Etats-Unis pour rendre visite à leurs grands-parents, domiciliés dans ce pays, tandis que leurs père et mère restent en Suisse. A leur arrivée à l’aéroport d’une grande ville*, ces deux mineurs retiennent tout particulièrement l’attention des fonctionnaires de police.

«Où est votre papa? Que fait votre papa? Votre papa vient-il parfois travailler aux Etats-Unis?» Les deux jeunes gens subissent ces questions, et quelques autres, pendant six heures dans les bureaux de la maréchaussée. Ils ne sont pas autorisés à contacter des personnes à l’extérieur. Tout au long de leur audition, parents et grands-parents ne reçoivent aucune information.

Ces faits, rapportés par un avocat suisse, tendent à démontrer ce qu’une large part de la place financière helvétique redoutait: les autorités américaines ont déjà commencé à exploiter les données livrées en avril par cinq banques: Credit Suisse, Julius Baer Co AG, HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA, la Banque Cantonale de Zurich et la Banque Cantonale de Bâle-Campagne. La masse de renseignements fournis comprend les noms de plus de 10 000 collaborateurs (estimation de l’association Swiss Respect) ayant eu des contacts électroniques, téléphoniques, voire des relations d’affaires avec des clients contribuables chez l’Oncle Sam.

L’effroi et la haine

Du coup, le cœur de milliers d’employés de banque vacille entre l’effroi et la haine. D’autant plus qu’environ 90% d’entre eux ne seraient pas des gestionnaires de fortune et n’auraient jamais démarché de clients aux Etats-Unis. Une immense majorité des personnes concernées se seraient en effet contentées d’exécuter des ordres. Dans un cadre purement administratif ou comme secrétaires de hauts responsables.

Les banques recommandent bien sûr aux collaborateurs et aux anciens dont les noms ont été transmis outre-Atlantique de ne plus se rendre aux Etats-Unis. Mais cette précaution semble vite insuffisante, vu les nombreux accords d’extradition existants. «J’encourage pour ma part mes clients à ne plus quitter la Suisse», indique Douglas Hornung, avocat genevois conseillant une quarantaine d’employés de banque empêtrés dans cette panade.

Les désagréments ne se limitent d’ailleurs pas à un choix restreint de destinations de vacances. Ou à des rencontres de familles reportées. En fait, peu de banques, de Suisse ou d’ailleurs, voire aucune, trouvent désormais un quelconque intérêt à intégrer dans leurs effectifs un collaborateur «listé». Son nom figure parmi les données fournies au Département de la justice états-unien par cinq établissements menacés de sanctions pénales et coopérant afin d’y échapper. Des carrières risquent donc fort d’être entravées. «Des banques n’ont pas craint d’exposer leurs employés à des conséquences potentiellement dévastatrices», affirmait notre confrère Le Temps le mois dernier.

Une double inconnue aggrave en plus la situation: nul ne sait en effet comment la justice yankee utilisera les informations recueillies, et des milliers de personnes ignorent complètement qu’elles sont concernées. «S’il fallait prévenir tout le monde, il s’agirait de milliers de personnes, relève le président du directoire de Credit Suisse, Brady Dougan. Si certains employés se posent des questions, ils peuvent se renseigner.» Les «ex» ne seront donc que très rarement avertis.

Doutes sur la légalité

Cette affaire a suscité des sentiments de trahison sur la place financière helvétique. Des avis d’experts n’ont pas manqué de les renforcer. Le préposé fédéral à la protection des données, Hanspeter Thür, n’a cessé de répéter ses doutes quant à la légalité de la livraison de données personnelles à l’administration américaine. «L’employeur n’a pas le droit de transmettre les noms de ses salariés. S’il y est contraint pour des raisons impérieuses, il doit alors les informer, couvrir financièrement les dommages et les frais d’avocat», prévient Thomas Geiser, professeur de droit à l’Université de Saint-Gall.

Grosse contradiction

Les cinq banques impliquées dans cette affaire peuvent certes se défendre: le Conseil fédéral leur a formellement donné l’autorisation, le 4 avril dernier, de fournir au Département américain de la justice (DOJ) des renseignements comprenant l’identité de plus de 10 000 employés. En ce sens, le Conseil fédéral n’hésite pas à se contredire. En 1997, dans des circonstances parfaitement comparables, deux banques avaient sollicité une autorisation similaire du gouvernement pour répondre à des exigences du DOJ. Le Conseil fédéral ne l’avait alors pas accordée, estimant que la Loi sur les banques l’en empêchait.

Le 14 avril 2012, le porte-parole du Secrétariat d’Etat aux questions financières internationales, Mario Tuor, a jugé bon de rassurer tout le monde: «Légalement, tout est en ordre». Trois des sept Sages se seraient pourtant opposés à l’autorisation accordée dix jours plus tôt: Ueli Maurer, Simonetta Sommaruga et Alain Berset.

A ce jour, un ex-chef juridique de HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA, Eric Delissy, a dénoncé son ancien patron au Ministère public de la Confédération. Quatre autres employés de banque ont intenté des actions civiles auprès des justices genevoise et zurichoise: trois contre Credit Suisse et une contre HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA.

*Les lieux exacts sont connus de la rédaction (TDG)

 
 
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER OVERSEAS AMERICANS,

I thought you’d enjoy this latest version of the annual message from the President of Switzerland to the nearly 10% of the population that lives abroad.

How remarkable that the Swiss Government doesn’t dislike and nastily harass their overseas citizens, as Uncle Sam does, but, instead, as this message makes clear once again, they really like, respect and want to help and remain close to those who live outside their home country.

Perhaps they know something that we haven’t stumbled across yet.  Then again, Switzerland has been an independent country for a rather long time now, while we are still trying to figure out who we are and what we are really trying to become.

Ah, the lessons that await us as we live and learn.  Enjoy and take care,  Andy

MESSAGE FROM SWISS FEDERAL COUNCIL PRESIDENT, FRAU EVELINE WIDMER-SCHLUMPF ADDRESS TO THE SWISS ABROAD 2012

Dear Swiss Abroad

Our National Day on the first of August unites us as Swiss citizens wherever we are. At this very moment, Swiss flags are flying north and south and around the world; if not in the wind, then in our hearts and minds. I hope you have a very enjoyable first of August! “Vive la Suisse”!

The ties that bind us will also remain strong tomorrow and in the future. The world of the internet, e-government and e-voting are bringing us ever closer together. We are online every day, and that is a good thing.

The Federal Council and parliament would like to establish further links in the form of a new Swiss Abroad Act and an Act on the Presence of Swiss Education Abroad, formerly known as the Education Act for the Swiss Abroad. Admittedly, these are just words, and words are by no means enough. However, they form a strong safety net for the seven-hundred-thousand Swiss citizens living abroad. That is something we can rely on, and that is what really counts!

What do we mean by ”We Swiss citizens? Since last year‟s federal elections, you Swiss Abroad have become much more tangible to us at home. We have a much clearer picture of you. Researchers have compiled a ”political profile‟ of Swiss living abroad, and the conclusion is clear:

“you are more open and liberal than we are back home. And that, I believe, is good for us and for Switzerland.”

Switzerland possesses many strengths that we can build on. This we all know. Quality is our maxim and innovation our objective; that is what makes our economy strong. But we also face big challenges: climate change, energy policy, financial and economic crises, a changing Europe. We Swiss are no strangers to these problems.

We need to keep an open mind and act decisively. We must do the right things today to provide a secure foundation for our children tomorrow and in the future. A foundation that gives them room to manoeuvre. We must establish a firm foothold to be able to withstand the pressures of tomorrow. We must look to the future; and we must try to picture ourselves from the outside, from the critical and self-critical perspective that you have of us, as Swiss living abroad.

You Swiss citizens living abroad are a part of our country. We want to be there for you, a safe haven providing strength and support back home in Switzerland. And we hope that you are also there for us, to be the voice of Switzerland abroad – standard bearers of the Swiss flag and its values of freedom, democracy and peace. To ensure that reliability and a feeling for quality prevail wherever it flies. For that I extend my warmest thanks to you!

On behalf of the Federal Council and the Swiss people at home, I wish you a happy first of August two-thousand and twelve! Let us continue to be there for one another!

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, President of the Swiss Confederation