Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Switzerland as tax, not sex crime, haven

Switzerland's reputation as a tax haven has taken some hits lately. Or (to put the point positively) its repute as a member of the family of nations willing to co-operate with other nations in going after tax cheats has improved.

Indeed, it was only Friday, September 25, that the OECD promoted Switzerland from the gray to the "white list" of mutually co-operative countries.

Intriguingly, it was only one day later that Roman Polanski tried to enter the country of Switzerland to accept an award and found himself under arrest on sex crime charges dating back to the 1970s.

Is there a connection between the two events other than geography? Consider, whilst pondering this, that the government of the US has a good reason to want to be friends with Switzerland, quite aside from tax revenue. Those Guantanamo prisoners have to go somewhere, and a nice isolated spot in the Alps could be just the ticket. The AP recently said that the Swiss Justice Ministrty is "gathering information" relevant to such a development.

In a related development, the largest Swiss bank, UBS, especially wants to get back into the good graces of the United States after a run-in with the IRS. Could UBS have been part of a back channel deal for Polanski?

I suspect there is more to this arrest than a by-the-book extradition proceeding.

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