Switzerland, Africa, And Tax Retrieval Agreements With EU Countries


The latest in the series of EU countries pacifying the rogue nation of Switzerland by signing tax retrieval agreements with it, is Italy. Others were United Kingdom, and Germany.

These agreements involve retrieval and repatriation of taxes from accounts of tax dodgers of the respective countries, in Switzerland.

These countries are able to put pressure on Switzerland, because of the power and expertise of their tax authorities.

However one could reasonably seek to understand the fate of African countries, that have had a large chunk of their wealth stolen by their politicians and deposited in Switzerland and whose relationships with Switzerland have remained tragic.

While western countries are seeking to recover only taxes from money deposited in Switzerland by their private citizens, Africa is seeking to recover all the deposits, profits and taxes. The reason is because in the African situation the entire overall bunch deposited was stolen by African politicians from the government treasuries; hence do not belong to the politicians in the first place.

The fight against corruption in developing countries will assume greater meaning, significance and effect if the countries that entice and attract dirty money are exposed and stopped. While it is the authorities in western nations that are seeking to recover the unpaid taxes and interests from Switzerland, it is the authorities in African countries that are stealing and depositing all the monies in Switzerland and other developed countries. Consequently they cannot seek to recover their own loots. Switzerland represents a known source of economic terrorism on African countries. She is a known source of harm and safe keeper of stolen goods from Africa. It is as notorious, harmful, painful, and unfriendly as that.

Corrupt politicians in Africa steal the money and Switzerland guarantees its safe keeping. If you are not clever enough to decipher that Switzerland survives only as a safe heaven for illicit funds, then you must have fallen and bought the idea, and became a sucker, that she is an international watch producer and repairer. According to Adusei (2010), Switzerland can best be described as economic vampire, parasite, and predator feeding on the economies of poor African and third world countries.

In a report in 2002, Kurt Kauri of the Swiss Banking Commission concluded after months of investigation that 19 Swiss banks had dealings with an African Head of state and failed to report suspicions of money laundering to Swiss authorities. The Commission reported that Swiss banks habitually did not run proper checks on financial accounts, and said that significant assets of dubious origin were deposited at Swiss banks. The Commission indicated that this was unsatisfactory and damages the image of Switzerland as a financial centre.

I argue that Switzerland at best qualifies as a dubious financial centre that has no image to protect.

Switzerland has no crude oil, gold, diamond, or any other meaningful natural resources, but she is armed with bank secrecy laws and more than 400 banks. This is how this enclave is able to make about $424 billion dollars yearly as GDP, with $43,007 per capital income. Her GDP is larger than those of Ivory Coast, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Slovenia, Ghana, Cameroun, New Zealand, Honduras, Serbia, Togo and Liberia put together. If you believe that she made her wealth selling wrist watches and guarding the Vatican you better think again. According to Neuborne (2009) selling bank secrecy has enabled Switzerland to move from an impoverished agricultural nation in the 19th century to a rich financial fortress in the 21st century.

The most intriguing of all these is that Western developed nations are not asking this country any serious questions. If she were to be an African or Asian country heaven would have fallen with all measures including violence and sanctions adopted to bring her down. EU is not asking any questions and even United Nations has even rewarded the country by having all her headquarters situated in the country. It is a complete bizarre state of affairs.

Ironically African countries are being helped to recover their lost treasures and billions from Switzerland by a Swiss Lawyer- Enrico Monfrini. Monfrini helped Nigeria to recover about $1 billion dollars looted from Nigeria by a former Head of State. Switzerland is aware that there are no huger businesses any where in the world than being an African politician or ruler. “While some nations export terrorism and drugs, Switzerland exports a virus- bank secrecy that eats at the fabric of law in the rest of the world”.

Joseph Stiglitz – a former World Bank executive and Nobel Laureate recently said that there has not been enough discussion of secret bank accounts as corruption facilitators and by and large the west facilitates the grand scale of corruption in poor countries especially African countries.

While western countries like UK and USA employ their attack dogs (HMRC, and IRS) and law like FATCA, to hunt down and track their missing taxes, Africa needs help to recover her missing billions in Swiss Fortes.

First published in Sahara Reporters
Austin Aneke is a Criminologist and the author of Technology and Corruption – The Missing and Morbid Links of development in Africa

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