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WikiLeaks, Swiss banks and the myth of protecting Jewish assets


4:34 pm - January 17th 2011

by Paul Sagar    


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Wikileaks has been handed confidential information by banker Rudolf Elmer, which threatens to reveal Swiss banking complicity in tax evasion and other criminal activity.

Accordingly, Elmer is to go on criminal trial for breaking Swiss bank secrecy laws.

One thing you can expect to hear around the build-up to this case is that Swiss banking secrecy was enacted to protect Jewish assets from the Nazis during the 1930s.

This was the line repeatedly deployed in 2008, when US authorities unveiled systematic complicity from Swiss bank UBS in assisting American tax avoidance.

It would be nice for the Swiss if it were true; providing some sort of vague moral justification for the systematic undermining of the laws and revenue authorities of other states. But it’s not true.

From Treasure Islands, the new book by Nick Shaxson you should all read:

A pervasive story now exists that Switzerland put bank secrecy into place to protect German Jewish money from the Nazis. This myth dates back to a bulletin in 1966 from the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (today’s Credit Suisse), and Swiss bankers have wielded it to great effect ever since. American officials negotiating a new tax treaty with Switzerland at that time lodged an official complaint after being frequently lectured about the supposed origins of bank secrecy as protection for Jewish money. A Swiss Federal Council report in March 1970 officially endorsed the story, and this was backed up in 1977 by a lurid book by a former Geneva newspaper editor outlining the fabulous story of Gestapo agents infiltrating Switzerland to worm out Jewish bank details. The problem with the story is that it’s not true

Amid the Great Depression, Swiss farmers’ and workers’ movements began in 1931 to clamour for more control over the banks. Bankers feared state inspection of their hitherto closely controlled financial domain would risk secrets leaking out, and they pressed fiercely for a new law, to make it a crime to violate Swiss bank secrecy. By August 1931, the highly-influential right-wing daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung was attacking government oversight of the banks, and in February 1932 a top banker sent the government draft legislation with a clause making it a crime to violate bank secrecy.

It was the French scandal [revelations that up to 4 billion francs were being lost to Swiss-facilitated tax evasion schemes] that October, however, which really spurred government into action. A new banking law was prepared and an official draft was ready by February 1933, just eighteen days after Hitler came to power and long before he had consolidated his grip on the German state or even gained control of all of Germany’s intelligence services. The Swiss law finally adopted in 1934 for the first time made it a criminal offence punishable by fines and prison to violate bank secrecy, and was almost unchanged from the original draft. In Germany the death penalty for having foreign accounts undeclared to the Third Reich only appeared in 1936. Even the Swiss Bankers’ Association has no records of the supposed activities of Gestapo agents coming to Switzerland to squirrel out information about Jewish money.

Of course, even if it were true that Swiss banking secrecy was originally adopted to protect Jewish assets (which it wasn’t), that wouldn’t justify the facilitation of tax avoidance and evasion today.

Instead, using of the legacy of the holocaust to provide cover for illicit financial skullduggery simply compounds the distasteful nature of what the Swiss tax haven operation involves.

Incidentally, Treasure Islands continues to pick up excellent reviews. Having started it over the weekend, I can confirm that it’s a cracking read. You should buy it.

Update: a video from the press conference

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About the author
Paul Sagar is a post-graduate student at the University of London and blogs at Bad Conscience.
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Reader comments


They will do or say anything to avoid paying tax. Tax is just for the ‘little people’ to coin a phrase recently by the BP Chairman.

Roll on the Wikitrolls who will condemn Wikileaks exposure of (alleged) criminal activity as somehow putting people’s lives at risk… – or worse still our investments

3. margin4error

As some one said of FIFA amid accusations of corruption and their statements of commitment to transparency…

“If they wish to be transparent and honest, why are they in Switzerland?”

The idea that the Swiss were protecting Jewish assets from the Nazis is absurd. Some pretty esteemed banking institutions and their officials in Europe and the U.S. were active collaborators with the Nazis throughout the 1930s and during the war. From their perspective they had no idea who would win so they were hedging their bets and anyway they were probably indifferent to which side would emerge victorious. For example, the useless Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, transferred £6,000,000 of Czechoslovak gold held on reserve at the Bank of England to the Nazis in 1939. No explanation has ever been given why this transfer took place and it is debatable whether the British government even knew. During the war he was communicating with the Nazis through the Bank for International Settlements. The first the British government knew of the collaboration was when U.S. intelligence told Churchill. The BIS acts like a central bank for central banks. Moreover, it is pretty ludicrous to be at war with another nation and at the same time receiving dividend payments from them. That was the case with the Nazis making payments to the BoE through the BIS for British investments in Germany. The BoE were a private institution in those days so who knows if the British government knew we were at war with them but they were also paying us.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montagu_Norman,_1st_Baron_Norman

The Swiss banks along with their British, French and to a lesser extent American colleagues were up to their ears in collaboration with the Nazis. In fact, it is in Switzerland that the BIS met. This is a good History Channel documentary.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8730885410534535770&hl=en#

Richard, thanks for that – excellent additional points, well made.

Isn’t this a bit of a straw man ? I’ve never heard that Swiss banking laws had anything to do with protecting Jewish assets. News to me.

I thought it was all about protecting (in the long run) Swiss assets – in that Swiss banks were never too worried about where their deposits came from, as long as they came !

Laban,

Taken pretty much at random from a basic google search:

http://www.isyours.com/e/banking/secrecy/nazi.spies.html

Paul – I think the Swiss must have started those stories – partly as good cover, and partly out of embarrassment at all that mercury in their post-war gold coins.

@4: “Some pretty esteemed banking institutions and their officials in Europe and the U.S. were active collaborators with the Nazis throughout the 1930s and during the war.”

Try “How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

As I recall the history of WW2, The Nazi government of Germany saw advantages in preserving the neutrality of Switzerland as well as Sweden’s neutral status throughout the war.

Incidentally, Treasure Islands continues to pick up excellent reviews. Having started it over the weekend, I can confirm that it’s a cracking read. You should buy it.

Paul, having read it, particularly the acknowledgements section, shouldn’t you be declaring an interest here?

(FWIW, I found it a curate’s egg – it’s reasonably mostly accurate technically (though the description of deferred taxes is oversimplified to the point of complete distortion of what they are), but falls down badly by overreaching and overly simplistic solutions to what is, in reality, an extremely complex problem.)

It is important to note that the individual, Rudolf Elmer, who is charged with leaking information, has said that he will return to the country where he resided (Switzerland) to withstand charges.

He is a very brave man and deserves our respect.

Assange is a piece of shit. He treads in the footprints of brave men and glorifies himself in a presumed reflection.

Update . FEB 13 th 2011

Nov.23 – – -Nov.26 th. 2010.
The following sent to – – – – 312- – Lords – – – – – – House of Lords. ( Inc. Lord Myners.)
The following sent to – – – – 649 – – M.P.’s – – – – – House of Commons.

SWISS BANK PARTNERS IN CRIMES.

Pictet & Cie Bank.

Ivan Pictet.
Charles Pictet.
Nicolas Pictet.
Jacques de Saussure.
Jean – Francois Demole.
Renaud de Planta.
Philippe Bertherat..

Pictet & Cie.- claim they are the “Rolls Royce”of Swiss banks.

Swiss Banks or more correctly Swizz banks.

Swizz. —- “ a great disappointment.” or a “ fraud.”

Fraud. —“ an intentional deception or dishonesty.”— “a crime.”

Crime. —“ an act committed or omitted in violation of a law.”

Serious Crimes .
Conspiring to pervert the Course of Justice.
Perverting the Course of Justice.
Contempt of Court.

Pictet & Cie Bank –Partners –(1996—2011)—guilty.
Peters &Peters – Partners.— (1999—2011)— guilty.

The bank and it’s officials/lawyers deliberately withheld crucial documents requested under a High Court order. The bank and it’s officials/lawyers deliberately withheld evidence from the Police, and one of it’s account managers Susan Broadhead gave a false witness statement to the Police.
Another one of it’s managers Nicholas Campiche ( Now Head of Pictet – Alternative Investments.) concocted a letter pretending to be a client and closed his account. The senior partner (Ivan Pictet.) sought to have numerous documents destroyed,along with those copies held in their London office’s of Pictet Asset Management. Initially stating that they were forgeries then their lawyers Peters & Peters – Monty Raphael –and the barrister Charles Flint.Q.C. later had to admit in Court that the documents were genuine.

British Parliament. Hansard .29th March 2007.
Barry Sheerman .M.P.—quote.

———“ Constituents of mine have lost £2 million through fraud. The fraudster used Pictet & Cie – – a French Bank – – and Pictet Asset Management to back the fraud being perpetrated.””

(1) It is a criminal offence for a bank to knowingly act for an undischarged criminal bankrupt in so far as it seeks to assist that criminal bankrupt in the fraudulent movement of monies. ( Money Laundering.)

(2) It is a criminal offence for a bank to lie to the police and the bankrupts trustee in bankruptcy in so far as any knowledge of, or dealings with the bank was refuted .

(3) A bank can be guilty of Contempt of Court if it fails to comply fully with the Courts order for discovery .

(4) The banks contempt is further compounded if it fails to address its error after it is specifically drawn to the to its solicitors attention. ( Monty Raphael).

(5) It is a criminal offence under the Financial Services Act to seek to destroy evidence that might be relevant to an investigation .

(6) It is a criminal offence not to relinquish control of funds to the Trustee immediately the fact of the bankruptcy is drawn to the banks attention.

(7) It is a criminal offence to lie or otherwise obfuscate the lawful and proper enquiries of the F.S.A.

In the F.S.A. cover up , they concluded that there had been “ Rogue” elements in Pictet & Cie’s , London operations . They had been moved from their London Office so who was there left to prosecute. “ Unbelievable.”

On Dec 9th,2008. the complaint was sent to 150 Members of the House Of Lords and 230 Members of Parliament.

*** We thank –David Cameron. M.P. ( Canary Wharf Speech.) Dec. 15th. 2008.
Now— PRIME MINISTER.

(1) Bankers who behave irresponsibly should face professional consequences.
(2) If anyone is found to have behaved criminally they must be prosecuted.
(3) The F.S.A and the Serious Fraud Office should be following up every lead,
investigating every suspect transaction .
(4) We need to make it 100% clear –those who break the law should face
prosecution.
(5) That we make sure we root out any wrongdoing that may have happened, whoever
is involved, however high or well connected they may be.

Ivan Pictet.
Managing partner in Pictet & Cie Bank . — retiring -?. 2010.
President of the Geneva Financial Centre. —stepping down -2010. ?
World Bank.committee member.—- ?
United Nations. Investment Committee member,
Vice President – Global Humanitarian Forum. — redundant.2010.?
Member of the Henokiens.
Blackstone Group — Board Member.
Past- President – Geneva Private Bankers association.
Past –President – Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Monty Raphael. ( Peters & Peters.)
Quote.” —- Doyen of U.K. Fraud lawyers.
Head of Fraud and Regulatory Dept. —- stepping down, –2009.? Director of the Fraud Advisory panel.
Member of the Law Society of England & Wales.
International Bar Association Member.

Written Parliamentary Questions received by the table office ..

(1) To ask the secretary of state what steps he is taking to ensure that Swiss Banks such as Pictet & Cie do not evade criminal prosecution under EU law even when the illegal act is committed by a London based subsidiary.

(2)To ask the secretary of state what steps he is taking to protect the rights of UK citizens who seek redress following criminal activities by Swiss banks with subsidiary offices located in London.

On Dec 9th,2008. the complaint was sent to 150 Members of the House Of Lords and 230 Members of Parliament.
On Aug 19th.2009.another complainants file regarding the “cover up” was forwarded to the same 380 members.

We started our campaign in June 2008 — via the “net” to highlight our fight to get “justice”. In our second year campaign we hoped to reveal further damning evidence . Due to there being an on going Police investigation into our complaint we are at this moment unable to place dozens of documents on to the “net”. Again we thank other “ E- Mailers” for their information in relation to our campaign.

Quote. ( America’s Top Lawyer .)
You can be the richest man in the world with the best lawyers that money can buy but you cannot win against a man who has got nothing left to lose and is telling the truth.

Truth Hurts.
Ivan Pictet. Announces stepping down from Pictet & Cie. 5th Feb 2010.
Stepping Down—President of Geneva Financial centre.—2010.
Monty Raphael. Steps down as head . May. 2009.

*** We note that there has been a sharp increase in Peters & Peters partners leaving to go to other practices. Moving does not alleviate them of any responsibility from any illegalities that may have occurred at Peters & Peters during their partnership tenure. From 1999 onwards.

*** Were currently waiting to see if the Police and other Law Enforcement Bodies attempt to cover this case up like their F.S.A. counterparts. If they do –“ then watch this space.”

We were informed that due to pressure from our M.P. that the Ministry of Justice have asked Lord Myners to investigate our claims that the F.S.A. covered up the illegal activities of Pictet Asset Management. London. It has been noted that the book launch
for PICTET was held at Lord Myners Belgravia home.We might as well have asked Ivan Pictet to investigate our complaint.-or someone from FRIENDS RE-UNITED.
Lady Myners on Prix PICTET advisory board.

The consensus of opinion is the Pictet & Cie should be prosecuted , and that their U.K. banking licence should be taken away.

Their Solicitors at Peters & Peters .London “ struck off and prosecuted..”

*** Started campaign — June 6th.2008.
2 .5 years —- approx 2 .5 million e-mails – – – but still no writs, injunctions or threats of litigation – – – WHY – – – because it is all true.

*** . The bigger they are — the harder they fall.!!!

In America —- they would have all been in prison for the last seven years.

Nov.23rd –Nov.26th. 2010 .

The above sent to —— 312 – – Lords – – – House of Lords.( Inc. Lord Myners.)
The above sent to — –649 – – M.P.’s – – – House of Commons._

Full Story.

Go to search box on “Google” and insert ( Peters & Peters/ Pictet & Cie.)

or go to ” Google ” and insert any of the following combinations.

Insert– ( Jacques de Saussure/ Monty Raphael.)
Insert– ( Ivan Pictet / Monty Raphael.)
Insert– ( Pictet & Cie /Monty Raphael.)
Insert– ( Charles Flint. Q.C./ Monty Raphael.)
Insert– ( Nicholas Campiche / Susan Broadhead.)
Insert– ( F.S.A. / Monty Raphael.)
Insert –( F.S.A. / Pictet & Cie.)
Insert –( Hansard /Ivan Pictet.)

*** Were currently waiting to see if the West Yorkshire Police :-
(1) Chief Constable —- Sir Norman Bettison.
(2) Forces Solicitor —- Mike Percival.
(3) Head of Economic Crimes Unit.— Det. Chief Inspector Steven Taylor.

— continue to attempt to cover this case up like their F.S.A. Counterparts.
If they do “ watch this space”)

We have recently been informed that due to pressure from our M.P. that the Ministry of Justice have asked Lord Myners to investigate our claims that the F.S.A. covered up the illegal activities of Pictet Asset Management. London. They might as well have asked Ivan Pictet to investigate .or Friends Reunited.
Lady Myners on Prix Pictet board.

The consensus of opinion is the Pictet & Cie should be prosecuted , and that their banking licence’s should be taken away in the U.K. ( and fined.)
Their solicitors at Peters & Peters — struck off and prosecuted..
In America they would have all been in prison for the last seven years.

WEST YORKSHIRE POLICE ..

We note that Det Chief Inspector Steven Taylor has been removed as Head of the Economic Crime Unit and demoted to Det. Inspector. ( One down two to go.)

A file of some 339 pages including scores of documentation has been forwarded to the following — Aug 4-6th .2011.

640 — Members of Parliament.
460 — Members of the House of Lords.
Ministry of Justice.
F.S.A. – Financial Services Authority.
Serious Fraud Office,
Peters & Peters .London. — Solicitors.
Pictet & Cie Bank — London & Geneva.
West Yorkshire Police Authority.
I.P.C.C.— Independent Police Complaints Commission.
C.C.R.C. — Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Swiss Ambassador London.


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