Monday, March 03, 2014

1299 Holes in a Swiss Bank

It’s so much fun to make fun of Switzerland.  After all, they have no navy, so they can’t retaliate by sea and their ground troops can’t get on their planes with those Swiss Army Knives and would be incapacitated by their weight and bulk even if they could.


We think of a tiny country where they invented cheese with holes, produce chocolate, go blind early making those oh-so-precise watches and claim to be neutral in wars.


Then there are the banks.


Secret numbered accounts.  Anonymity. The original place for tax evaders to hide money.


Lately, the banks have kind of shied away from hiding big bucks.  Or so they say.  But they are nothing if not resourceful. They went into the financial adviser business.


To do that, you have to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Must have slipped the minds of the gnomes at Credit Suisse. They’ve just been slapped with a fine for that and it isn’t the size of a parking ticket, it’s $196 million dollars.


Still, shied away from hiding big bucks is not the same as not hiding big bucks and a Senate committee is investigating Credit Suisse with an eye to finding about $12 billion tax evaded dollars.


If collected, the taxes on 12-billion won’t exactly pay off the national debt.  But it’s still real money.


What the senators want is names.  Apparently they haven’t approached the NSA for that. Yet.  And they’re still waiting for a promised response from the bank.


Of course, if one bank cracks, they all go down.  And that giant whooshing sound you hear is megabucks fleeing from Switzerland for the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Ireland.


And they’re not traveling on cruise ships though they could well afford to, they’re traveling on fiber optic and the internet. (Switzerland doesn’t have cruise ships for the same reason it doesn’t have aircraft carriers.)


The IRS would like to stop playing hide and seek with American depositors.  So it’s giving a tax break to those who come forward. Nice. Especially when they would love to audit you to see whether you really made that two thousand dollar contribution to Save the Whales.


As for Credit Suisse, its chief executive, Brady Dougan says tax evasion is “unacceptable.”  Oh?  But then in prepared testimony, Dougan blames a few bad apples for the rot in the barrel.  “To our deep regret…” he says.  “In the past…” he says.  


Oh.  That means it’s all over, right? And the bad apples have been excised? And they’re sitting in the Swiss equivalent of Club Fed for the Gnomes of Zurich where they’ve set up consultancies?


Well… we don’t exactly know.  Swiss bankers don’t all have names.  Some have numbers.  Unlisted numbers.


Shrapnel Stuy Town Edition:


--Rest in peace Lee Lorch, dead at 98. Lorch was one of 12 original tenants at the Met Life owned Stuyvesant Town apartment mega-complex in Manhattan to force an end to a ban of black tenants. The company president had said in 1943 that blacks and whites just don’t mix.


--That’s not all president Frederick Ecker told the New York Post, then a liberal newspaper. He’d said letting in African Americans would cause property values to decline.  It didn’t and they haven’t.


Grapeshot:


-Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village facts: 56 buildings, 11-thousand or so apartments, 25-thousand residents on 80 acres, on paper in 1943 and opened in 1947 on land once home to the ugliest gas storage tank farm in history.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2014

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