War Coming to the Heart of Europe?

Bruce Krasting's picture



Switzerland is becoming politically isolated in Europe. The country got a big slap in the face from Germany this week. The German Upper House refused to accept a settlement offer from the Swiss government over the very messy matter of German tax cheats, and their accounts with Swiss Banks. A bit of history:


- The US Justice Department took on the Swiss over banking secrecy four-years ago. The DOJ used a very big club. The deal was that the Swiss would give up the “Names” of account holders, if they did not, they would have to close up all business in the USA. So the Swiss government, on behalf of their banks, folded like a cheap suit in the rain.


- Then all of the countries in the EU wanted a similar deal as the US. They wanted Names, so they could prosecute them at home. The Swiss balked, knowing that if they caved, the domestic private bankers would get crushed, and a good number of high profile folks would get exposed as cheaters.


- The Swiss came up with an ingenious “fix” with the following pieces:


1) A flat tax would be applied to the principal of the Black Accounts. The tax runs as high as 41%, depending on the age of the account.


2) A withholding tax of 10% would be charged on income the Black Accounts earn.


3) In exchange for #s 1 and 2, the account holder would remain anonymous, and therefore avoid public disclosure/prosecution.



This is an incredible deal. Let’s call it what it actually is, State sponsored Money Laundering!


For a “fee”, that averages less than 20% of the account balance, and an additional ½% a year, money can be successfully laundered. In the end, the money will be as clean as a whistle. Your average drug kingpin would gladly pay that price.


- Incredibly (to me), both England and Italy jumped on the Swiss offer. They inked deals that start on January 1. The public argument for accepting the deal(s) has been that it raises significant amounts of money. But actually, there are no promises how much will get paid, so the money side is not really the argument for acceptance. I think the reason is that influential folks pushed for this deal because they did not want their Names in the local paper.


-The German Upper House said "Nein!" this week. It was a tremendous defeat for Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (Swiss President and Finance Minister - great name). It was also a defeat for Frau Merkel who pushed for it. The worst possible outcome is that now, under German pressure, both Italy and England may be forced to reverse their positions; and chuck out the Swiss tax treaty.


What happens next? It might be that another Swiss bank employee steals a tape with more names and account information, and sells it for E5m to the German tax collectors (they are willing buyers, they have already bought two tapes). This is highly illegal activity in Switzerland. The country is up in arms over the trouncing of their laws by neighboring France and Germany.


I wonder if there are any currency implications to this story. The Swiss National Bank has pegged the CHF to the Euro for over a year now. The SNB has been able to do this as they have the tacit approval of the ECB. But the ECB is a slave to French and German politics, and the politicians have their own war with the Swiss. There are very big players squeezing balls right now, I would not be surprised if this ends up blowing back in the face of the SNB.


In passing, I note that EURCHF hit a low (from early September) of 1.2027 today, just a few pips away from where the SNB steps in. This is happening with the backdrop of a stable to firm EURUSD, so a bit of a surprise. Separately, Tomas Jordon, the boss at the SNB had some interesting words today (Link):


To ensure that the SNB can fulfill its mandate in the long term, without any restriction, in the interests of the country as a whole, particular attention is given to its capital base through a prudent provisioning policy.


Read this to mean: We're gonna take some lumpy losses.


There is going to be another chapter in this story, soon.


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paintman's picture


Does money belong to government and people are merely allowed to use it? 

Does money belong to people and they may use it as they see fit?

From the article and the comments, it seems that we are trying to settle the consequences of an agreement before we actually make the agreement.

Orly's picture


Illegally obtained money (such as through selling drugs or laundering the money obtained from those pursuits...) belong to the people of the state upon conviction of said crime.

Money that should have been paid to the state in the form of taxes upon legally obtained pursuits also belong to the people of the state, depending upon which jurisdiction and which state the money was obtained.

Money that is owed to the government in the form of taxes are subject to legal penalty if they are not paid to the state and any money obtained through fees, fines or other retribution also belongs to the people of the state.


It's pretty simple, y'all.  If all the bigwigs can get away with tax evasion or money-laundering, guess who picks up the tab to finally put those people in prison?  That's right, you do.

If you think it's fair for someone to avoid paying taxes but you have to pay them every day of your life, then you have a serious problem and should consider changing your opinion about that.

If you think it's fair for Switzerland to be the only ornery kid in the sixth grade class who can get out of line just because he always has, then you have another problem.  The Swiss have to follow the rules, just like everyone else.  When they don't. well, you see what happens.  I don't think it's worth it.  They need to rethink their position.

If you're still okay with that, then there is nothing else I can say.

paintman's picture

So the medium of exchange commonly accepted for my labors and skills does not belong to me.  Next question.  Do my labors and skills belong to me?

saycheeeese's picture

In a speech delivered on Swiss National Day this year, Defence Minister Ueli Maurer of the Eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party, used the anniversary to warn against the European Union’s attempts “to subject us to its jurisdiction”.


thisandthat's picture

They don't need to - they got them surrounded :P

Clothcap's picture

Is the Vatican mafia laundry service protected territory?

shovelhead's picture

We wetta the beak or you no do a business here, capisce?

It's a Family thing.

Even criminals have rules to follow.

sbenard's picture

Sounds more like blackmail or a shakedown to me!

SoundMoney45's picture

Bruce,  The Citizens of Germany, France, and England are attempting to hide their legally gotten gains from confiscatory taxes.  Their governments owe unpayable debts, and thus want the money.  I suggest you read up on monetary history and read zerohedge to better understand the current insolvency of western governments.  It will not be different this time.

thisandthat's picture

The "Citizens" of Germany, France, and England


LOL You really believe it's "communism" fearing hard working people who hide their "legally gotten" savings there? Fine, though, euphemistically speaking, such "model citizens" usually go by entrepreneurs (hah, preneurs...),  public servants, wisemen, etc., instead...

Toolshed's picture

I understand that life is not fair. BUT, why should rich assholes get away with not paying their legally obligated tax burden while I am forced to pay mine? Which is a higher percentage of my income in the first place. This bullshit that these anonymous fat cats should get away with breaking the tax laws because the laws are confiscatory sounds like the rationalizing of bitches. The elites had best change their tunes if they want to survive among us rabble.

Orly's picture

I'm starting to like this Toolshed.


SmittyinLA's picture

They don't call it "Fortress Switzerland" for nothing.

Funny, the most sophisticated drone technology on the planet happens to be controlled by the Swiss, coincidence?

I bet they have nukes too, they'd cut a deal with AQKhan in a nano second.

Sanksion's picture

Is this guy really think France and Germany would invade Switzerland for some money laundering?
What a joke!

If there is any war in Europe in the coming years or decades, it would be civil wars : for politicial revolution (debt and poverty issues) or religious war (Islam vs Occident). Or both.

Toolshed's picture

Yes, well I am pretty sure that Mr. Krasting was speaking of war in the figurative sense, as in "trade war" or "currency war". He wasn't indicating that there would be a military invasion. Sorry to disappoint you.

Orly's picture

More like stop doing business with them.  Make Basel a ghost-town and the BIS beg for funding.

Ferg .'s picture

Agreed . As opposed to the likes of Iran and N.Korea , for such an extensive export based economy any round of sanctions would be extremely painful for Switzerland . 

Btw long time no speak Orly , I've missed all our conversations on the shady goings on to support the British Pound and  on where the AUD/USD was heading . :)

Orly's picture

Hey, yeah!  How are you?  Long time, indeed.  Welcome back!

Answer: lower.  I have  the AUDUSD pair bottoming at about 1.02 in this round.


Nice to see you again.

Ferg .'s picture

I'm good ! 

Back studying Economics in college.It's tough though , the course is pure mainstream Keynesianism ( Bernanke himself co-authored the core textbook I'm using ! ) and after years of reading Austrian school stuff and scathing anti-mainstream articles on ZeroHedge I'm finding it difficult to adjust ha .  

Looks as if we're on the same page regarding the Aussie , I have it dropping to 1.020-1.025 . It's been chop city for the last year and a half though , still waiting to see which way that triangle breaks :/  


Anyway , good to talk to you again :D

Zero Govt's picture

Read this to mean: We're gonna take some lumpy losses.

while I sleep on some smoothly feathered gains with a bed stuffed with Swiss Francs ...Thanks once again SNB, your peg is a gifthorse i'm riding with joy in my heart ;)

q99x2's picture

More evidence the wealthy are beginning to cannibalize each other. And to think the NSA has all the info on them. Glad I'm not rich.

Zero Govt's picture

it is in fact Govt (an institution of parasites) that's cannibalizing everyone productive in society. That's rich, white collar and blue collar, right across the spectrum.

the Parasite Club will eat us out of house and home unless you slam your fridge door shut..

Stop Paying Tax

...it's your work, your money, not theirs to thieve (that's right Bruce?)

CheapBastard's picture

Good article Bruce. I bet government officials from these countries compose a high percentage of the 'yax cheats' who want to hide their names.

Toolshed's picture


Government officials AND thier cronies.

AnAnonymous's picture

Another "americanism for the dummies" article.
Funny how 'americans' make a sensation of discovering what it has been the norm in 'americanism' for more than 200 years.

It fails several times.

Switzerland, active in the money laundering? Shocking news. It is certainly not like Switzerland has a long history laundering money. Incredible. Definitively worth a Pullitzer, along with all the other fine 'americans' who won it.

Once this remembered, the ground for war collapses. 'Americans' residing in Europe fighting a war because Switzerland is part of a big money laundering ring? Been such a long time it would have happened before.

Many promises of war by this 'american' authoer: boots on the ground in Somalia etc...

And what? Nothing.

'Americans' are strongly limited in their war efforts. They own nearly everything and war would be highly counterproductive to them since it would end by lossing more than they could earn.

Tough reality for the war addicted 'americans'. Only a few pockets of uncaptured wealth remain. And Swichtzerland is not that part.

Toolshed's picture

And what nation do you hail from pray tell? Inquiring minds want to know.

Oh, and by the way, two words of advice you anonymous scamp..........spell checker.

pfairley's picture

Dear Bruce, 

1)Please provide footnotes for Wikipedia standards:

"For a “fee”, that averages less than 20% of the account balance, and an additional ½% a year, money can be successfully laundered..Your average drug kingpin would gladly pay that price."    Or state how many drug kingpin friends you called.

2) re: "Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (Swiss President..great name)"

 I agree. Long names should be more amusing like:

 Jane Lyktagvya-BeeJay

honestann's picture

To the Swiss.  You made a huge mistake.  Now correct it.  Become utterly independent, only deal with individuals, and do not become a party to the politics of every nation on earth.  Individual transactions are individual transactions.  Period.  Stay completely out of the politics of other nations, or your country will utterly perish.  That's a guarantee.

SubjectivObject's picture

Too bad the Swiss did'nt simply close the US branches.  Seems that woulda been a lot simpler, and then be the mouse that roared against the widely regarded as unregerate US regime.

Zero Govt's picture

cue UBS lay-offs

for every Govt crusade there's always carnage

..each nations unemployment cues are directly atributable to Govt vandalism

TonyCoitus's picture

What will the Swiss think of next?

How about drive-in sex boxes?

Make the bitchez buy a license and pay a tax!


New_Meat's picture

Bruce: War Warning is a skosh' extreme?

N'est ce pas?

- Ned

{Of course, if the warning has no expiration date, then I'm on ya' like I'm on the Lottery tix that we just bot}

Moe Howard's picture

It's all zeros and ones on a magnetic disc. Wipe it all.

Orly's picture

Remember I said when you first mentioned this story that this would open a whole new can of worms.

Taking photos of certain persons of interest going into and out of a bank is absolutely worthless in any court of law as any definitive proof of tax evasion whatsoever.  However, when a Swiss bank employee is stealing records and selling that information to a foreign power, that constitutes spying and is against all international treaties.

When the Bundesbank is paying a foreigner for illegally gotten information, that is tantamount to war.

The Italians and the British were foolish to jump on this idea of repatriating monies that have been held secretly in Black Accounts in Switzerland because they should have taken the diplomatic route.  Not only that, but their greed (or is it desperation?) is showing here.

The Swiss have no more right to secret banks for international money-laundering any more than I do and a diplomatic shuffle should have been engaged whereby the Swiss give over all names of foreign nationals who hold money in Swiss accounts; same as we do in the United States and the same as everyone else does all over the world.

It is the Swiss who are breaking the spirit of international law in the first place, forcing other countries to also break international laws to retrieve what they believe is rightfully theirs.  According to French banking secrecy laws and German banking secrecy laws, you are not allowed to keep money in overseas banks for the purpose of evading taxes.  That's the law.  Escalation of these subversive acts should have never occurred, that much is granted; however, diplomatic pressure should have been used to call out the Swiss for international bank fraud.

It is the Swiss who are not respecting these laws and the unique practice of Swiss Black Accounts should have been stopped a long time ago.


agent default's picture

Shithead, you do realize that if you are outside the EU and the US, Germany is as opaque as Switzerland in these matters.  You do know that much right? 

Urban Redneck's picture

The Swiss are not breaking international law or German law.

There is no "spirit" of international law to break.

The Germans are violating Swiss law.


And since YOU are not a sovereign State, to say that the sovereign state of the Swiss Confederation does;t have any more right to anything than you do, is probably the most ignorant statement of law I have ever read, so much so that it makes those "sovereign citizen" clowns seem brilliant.

Toolshed's picture

Do some research, the Swiss banks were absolutely breaking US laws by not only aiding US citizens to hide money for the purpose of tax avoidance, but were actually recruiting them for that purpose. Yet no one went to jail.....AGAIN!!! Take off your elitist blinders and take a hard look at the glare of reality. Yeah, it sucks.

Urban Redneck's picture

Swiss banks aren't subject to US laws, so they aren't breaking US laws.

There are regulations concerning participation in certain multilateral endeavors and constructs associated with finance which are effectively controlled by the US government, but that is very different from being subject to US laws.  Perhaps you would like to CITE EXACTLY WHAT US LAW YOU THINK HAS BEEN BROKEN, AND INCLUDE THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE RELEVANT STATUTE, INCLUDING THE DEFINITION OF TERMS.

Unlike Americans, the Swiss actually throw their bankers (at least up to a certain level) in prison, when they break laws.

Perhaps you should seek enlightenment, since you appear rather ignorant of how the world actually works.


Toolshed's picture

Urban Redneck,

You sir, are the very epitomy of arrogance and willful ignorance. Your request is both ludicrous and unreasonable for this forum. There is a wealth of information available regarding this issue for anyone concerned enough to look for it.

Just one of many examples:


You can go back to you own dimension now. Please.

Urban Redneck's picture

No Dumshit- I apparently know infinitely more than you do.


The UBS case revolves around the Canada desk and UBS employees entering US sovereign soil and carrying out acts in violation of US law.


FATCA subjects non-US banks to a withholding tax on US financial instruments if they don't comply, it doesn't imply that the US has any regulatory authority over Swiss banks.

Swiss banks are in complaince with the TIEA between the US and Switzerland- that was the whole issue of dumping US clients over the last several years...



Toolshed's picture

I understand your hostility. Really, I do. I am sure it is very frustrating to possess such a low level of mental acuity. However, I never referred to Swiss banks in Switzerland. I was referring to Swiss banks here in the USA. I am sorry this caused you so much confusion and anxiety. I should have been more clear on that point it seems. However, let me point out one thing. Since you can't even spell your insults correctly (dumbshit, with a b), I believe any further attempt at discourse with an individual such as yourself would prove utterly futile. You may need someone to explain this post to you. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Urban Redneck's picture

If you are referring to AMERICAN BANKS that are SUBSIDIARIES of Swiss Banks, then you are not even reading the half based propaganda you link to.  Furthermore, your lack of understanding of basic finance is as pathetic as your lack of understanding of basic law.  Perhaps you should go back Yahoo! or some other meeting place for the intellectually challenged.

Orly's picture

My, what a vulgar and angry man you are.

I do hope things get better for you.


Urban Redneck's picture

Vulgar- Yes Angry- No, Correct Regardless.

The 7th rule of Fight Club mirrors the notion of implied consent in Common Law, which has a more consequential corollary in International Law with which you are apparently unfamiliar.

You make disparaging ad hominem attacks, demonstrably false accusations, and fail to provide any actual evidence to support either your misconceptions or your misdirections.

The vulgarity serves as a useful social conditioning against ingrained dismissive reflexes, i.e. it really irks the sensibilities of the intellectually competent to have to agree with what I am saying, while they detest the way in which I say it. 

The facts stand, the US violates international law, Switzerland doesn't.

Your naive applause for the fascist behavior of your own host government, exposes your ignorance of the fact that the US is actually establishing ever encroaching precedent in the body of the domestic law which governs US subjects to promote fascism, not international law.

Read 18 USC § 371 and then the DPA between the DOJ and UBS, reread the bottom of page 6 before the reading SCOTUS's ruling in Societe Internationale v. Rogers - 357 U.S. 197, then read the criminal complaint in US v Bagios in the Southern District of Florida particularly paragraphs 15, 16 & Overt Acts (keeping in mind that in order to work in the US one must have a US residency and work permit if the are not a US citizen).



Orly's picture

No, he would rather believe that one man's "freedom" is another man's ability to get away with murder.

He only hopes that when his turn comes to hide billions (!) away from his government they won't come after him.

He's all Mr. Stop-Paying-Taxes and has posted schemes where you save all your tax money and go buy gold with it and then negotiate an 80% reduction in your tax bill.

Otherwise known as fraud.

Jail time.

Big jail time.

Let him go back to his Mad Max fantasies and pretend his shotgun and his hunting dog will help him get the girl when the SHTF.  Oh, and stacks of gold.

"Yep.  Still shiny."

Urban Redneck's picture


You've already demonstrated that you don't have the faintest comprehension of international investment or banking law.

Where have I posted some scheme to,  "save all your tax money and go buy gold with it and then negotiate an 80% reduction in your tax bill"?


Orly's picture

Perhaps it is not the letter of the law I am referring to but the spirit of the law, as I said.

It is up to the Swiss to make arrangements to get in line with everyone else.

If you think that is ignorant, then I can't help you.  It is like teaching a sixth-grade class and one little smartass has to keep interrupting things but you can't say anything because he's "always been that way."  That's just ridiculous.

The Swiss have to follow the rules just like everyone else.

Urban Redneck's picture

You reek of arrogance, yet display the limited intellectual capacity of a juvenile.

There is no such thing as the spirit of international law. The laws are the laws. Those laws have specific meanings.

The Swiss do follow the laws, and unfortunately they are trying to prevent the inevitable escalation of a currency war into a trade war, instead of winning the trade war before the cost escalates.  

Whereas US adherence to international law is a utter joke. There is no allowance in international law for the violation of territorial sovereignty and homicide by drone, even if the chimp of a commander in chief thinks otherwise. The US Congress isn't any wiser, ratifying the Paris Charter, while Clause 8 of Annex I specifically violates the 10th amendment of the US Constitution, and lead to the observer melodrama in the US November elections.

The private deposits in Swiss banks that are the subject of the proposed treaty are a pittance in terms of the domestic wealth management industry. The large deposits come from elsewhere or have a complex structure that renders the proposed Swiss-German Treaty treaty a non-issue, which only addresses undeclared deposits owned by German subjects in Swiss banks, which might be a violation of German law by German subjects, and has nothing to do with either Swiss or international law. The uncertainty that results from the non-ratification of the treaty, however, feeds into larger issues that the domestic banking and wealth management industry is currently confronting. 

Germany and entire Eurozone continue to exist in some semblance of solvency only by the continued grace of both the FED and the SNB.  Switzerland is a position to do more damage to Germany and the entire Eurozone in a single day, than Germany could hope to benefit from undeclared deposits of German subjects in Swiss banks over an entire decade. This, however, would be a counter-productive escalation on the Swiss part, whereas giving the gift of cheap oil for the German people would be an escalation which allows the SNB to profit on its balance sheet expansion and hurt German manufacturing interests and their kleptocrat puppets in Berlin who ravaging the couch cushions for spare change and are not behaving in a civilized fashion.

The biggest diplomatic problem right now isn't this sideshow with the German troglodytes over personal taxes, but the harmonization of the corporate tax privilege models, both in Switzerland and in the EU. This is made more complex because the usual foreign policy model is turned on its head, whereas normally the Swiss federal government negotiates 27 bilateral treaties with the EU member states, the corporate tax debate is primarily in the realm of the 26 Swiss cantonal governments and the EU apparatus in Brussels.

These are extremely complex intertwined issues at both the domestic and international level of politics and finance, when people stumble over bullshit such as the "spirit of international law" they won't even make it out the starting gate, much less across the finish line.