Confronté au cas des banques suisses qui ont livré près de 10’000 noms d’employés aux Etats-Unis, l’expert suisse en matière d’entraide judiciaire internationale Robert Zimmermann est catégorique: “La procédure d’entraide a été court-circuitée, c’est du jamais vu dans l’histoire de la Confédération”, a-t-il déclaré à la RTS mercredi.
Confronted with the case of the Swiss banks who divulged close to 10,000 names of employees to the US, the Swiss expert in international judicial assistance matters, Robert Zimmerman, is adamant: “The Judicial Assistance Procedure was short-circuited, in a manner never seen before in the history of the [Swiss] Confederation”, Robert Zimmerman told Radio Television Switzerland on Wednesday.
Robert Zimmermann rappelle le précédent de 1983. A l’époque, l’Américain Marc Rich, réfugié en Suisse, avait accepté de livrer les noms de clients et d’employés de ses sociétés actives dans le négoce de matières premières au Département de justice américain. Saisi de l’affaire, le Conseil fédéral interdira cette livraison de données, intimant à Marc Rich de respecter la procédure d’entraide.
Robert Zimmerman reminds us of the precedent in 1983. At that time, Marc Rich, refugee in Switzerland, accepted to divulge names of clients and employees of his companies active in trading natural resources to the Department of Justice. The Federal Council forbid the transmission of the data, enjoining Marc Rich to respect the international judicial assistance procedure.
“Une Suisse affaiblie”
Trente ans plus tard, le Conseil fédéral cède aux demandes américaines, “un précédent extrêmement dommageable pour la Suisse qui a bâti sa réputation au fil des décennies par son respect du droit et des lois”, commente Robert Zimmermann. L’expert déplore encore le fait que la Suisse, “qui s’était toujours attachée à coopérer avec les Etats-Unis, dans le cadre strict des traités”, s’en trouve affaiblie.
« A Weakened Switzerland »
Thirty years later, the Federal Council gives away to American demands, “ a damaging precedent for Switzerland, which has built its reputation over the decades for its respect for the rule of law”, says Zimmerman, who deplores the fact that Switzerland “which has always been committed to cooperate with the US within the strict framework of treaties”, is weakened.
L’affaire est loin d’être close puisque l’ex-chef juriste de la banque HSBC Eric Delissy a fait recours au Tribunal pénal fédéral (TPF) contre les décisions de HSBC, de l’Autorité fédérale de surveillance des marchés financiers (Finma) et du Conseil fédéral, s’opposant notamment au classement de sa plainte par le Ministère public de la Confédération (MPC).
« Appeal Lodged »
The matter is far from being closed because the ex-head-lawyer of the bank HSBC, Eric Delissy has appealed to the Federal Criminal Court against the decisions of HSBC, federal market regulators (FINMA), and the Federal Council. This appeal is in opposition against the dismissal of the matter by the Federal Attorney General.
Si le recours d’Eric Delissy est accepté – la décision du TPF à Bellinzone est attendue dans les prochaines semaines – le MPC devra ouvrir une enquête contre les responsables de HSBC pour espionnage économique au profit d’une puissance étrangère (art. 273 du Code pénal suisse), puis ce sont les responsables de la Finma et le Conseil fédéral qui pourraient devoir répondre de la livraison de données bancaires aux Etats-Unis.
If the Eric Delissy’s appeal is accepted, the decision of the Federal Criminal Court at Bellinzona [located in Italian-speaking region] is expected within a few weeks. The Federal Attorney General would open an investigation against HSBC management for economic espionage in favour of a foreign power (violation of Article 273 of the Federal Penal Code)….
Statement of Roger Conklin, Retired International Sales and Marketing Executive: The Negative Consequences of Citizenship-based Personal Taxation on the Competiveness of American Companies and the Resulting Destruction of Jobs for American Workers
This is an open paper given by our friend, Roger Conklin, to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Here are some other recent comments from Roger about FATCA, the trade deficit, and the problems that are caused by double taxation:
FATCA is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The US government started piling them on with 1962 legislation which taxed just a handful of the very rich abroad – movie stars filming in Mexico. So they came home. But the Tax Reform Act of 1976 brought back hundreds of thousands of middle class Americans abroad who always insured a healthy US trade surplus. The largest-ever US trade surplus was in 1975, but when hundreds of thousands of overseas Americans were hit by a ton of bricks, they abandoned ship and the US trade balance immediately went negative. There has never been even one trade surplus since 1975 and our cumulative trade deficit since 1976 now exceeds $9 trillion!
I had been running a company in Brazil penetrating a new market for American products. When that Act was signed my combined Brazilian plus US tax shot up to 81% more than any non-American with my exact same income and family status. I could not survive. I closed out work in process, shut down the company and came home to start a new career.
A French company moved in, hired most of our employees and 8 years later was importing $1 billion in French products into Brazil to support that market. The US share of that market dropped to near zero. This happened around the world and that is why the 100-year period ending in 1975, during which the US recorded trade surpluses for 95 of those 100 years, overnight was transformed into our current perpetual trade deficit.
With FATCA, on top of being subject simultaneously to two very different and incompatible sovereign tax systems, there will be few Americans left abroad. The draconian FATCA rules obligate foreign banks to provide detailed reports on their accounts of US citizens, in open violation of the privacy laws of the countries where they operate. Rather than comply and risk massive penalties imposed by their governments, they are closing down accounts of American persons. Without an account to deposit their paycheck or out of which to pay their rent, they cannot survive. So it is either pack up and come home or renounce US citizenship. To those with foreign spouses renunciation is their likely choice because obtaining a visa for the spouse to immigrate to the US and start life over from scratch is rarely a viable choice. Being uprooted after 10, 20 or more years and forced to start over in a different country is absolutely inhumane. Yet that is exactly what FATCA does to middle class Americans living abroad.