Posts from "October, 2013"

“BEHIND THE WALLS OF A COLLEGE”

By Matthew Temme

Tax Heaven Pictures0003

It made me sick to think that the Swiss town where I had lived and taught school, attended university, owned a home, and raised a family was at the center of this sordid “Iran-contra affair” which blatantly violated the constitutional safeguards that guaranteed the United States’ principle of the separation of powers. The Swiss Constitution of 1848 was based on the American Constitution. Why then were the Swiss so eager to help Americans do what they would never do themselves? This affair only increased my resolve to leave Switzerland. The previous summer, my wife and I had decided that we would leave her home town and return to my bithplace in Pennsylvania where we had lived when we were newlyweds  in 1968. Even though I had tenure at the canton’s premier lycée, and we had recently put an expensive addition onto our house, we decided that we had to leave Fribourg—at least on a leave of absence.

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IRAN-CONTRA

By Matthew Temme

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Audifi SA, Rue de L’industrie 16, Fribourg (6th floor)

IRAN-CONTRA

In 1986, when Fribourg first burst onto the international scene in the December 15th edition of Time magazine, it was spelt in the German way. An article entitled “Pursuing the Money Connections,” traced intriguing Iran-contra connections to Geneva and “Freiburg.”(p.13) The Time article described a nebulous relationship between the Iran-contra arms dealers and “Freiburg.” After reading it, however, I was still not sure (because of the spelling) whether the author was referring to the Swiss or the German city.

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FRIBOURG: THE CATHOLIC TAX HAVEN

By Matthew Temme

fribourg

On October 10th, 2013 the Swiss Federal Court in Bellinzona (TI) finally handed down its verdict in one of the most important money-laundering cases ever prosecuted in Switzerland. Five Czechs and one Belgian were convicted of fraudulently taking over the Czech coal-mining company Mostecké uhelné společnosti (MUS) in 1999. A sixth Czech defendant died in March. The men had been accused of forgery, fraud, money laundering and other charges. The Czechs received sentences ranging from 36 to 56 months. The Belgian, who was a former director of the International Monetary Fund (the IMF) and the World Bank, is elderly and in poor health so he only received a fine. First, the defendants had managed to milk the huge Bohemian coal-mining company of money from the company’s environmental clean-up fund. Then they used this money to buy the company at about 1/18th of its real value. This affair was typical of other privatization scams that followed the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. As usual, a multitude of secret bank accounts and offshore shell companies were used to drain money (in this case about 1.2 billion Swiss francs) from the captive company.

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