Switzerland Amends Banking Law To Expose Illicit Accounts

The Switzerland Ambassador to Nigeria, Hans-Rudolf Hodel on Tuesday said his country has amended its bank secrecy laws making it more legally responsible to disclose suspicious funds lodged in the country’s financial institutions.

Mr Hodel, who was speaking at a seminar in Abuja on money laundering and terrorism in West Africa, said with the rise in the financing of global terrorism, individuals and groups can no longer loot money and dump in Swiss accounts without fear of discovery as the authorities are now authorised to raise alerts on suspicious transactions.

“We still have a bank secrecy law but it is very relative because as soon as there are suspicions of illicit fund be it for trafficking, terrorism or whatever criminal act, the bank secrecy is lifted and the accounts are seized,” the Ambassador said.

Mr Hodel said Switzerland is currently engaged in activities that will strengthen regional capacity and cooperation in dealing with the financing of terrorist groups.

Other experts present at the event pointed out that the quickest way to kill terrorism is to cut off its life source which is funding.

Bank secrecy is a legal principle under which banks are not allowed to provide to authorities personal and account information about their customers unless certain conditions apply (for example, a criminal complaint has been filed).

Created by the Swiss Banking Act of 1934, which led to the famous Swiss bank, the principle of bank secrecy is always considered one of the main aspects of private banking. It has also been accused by civil society organisations and governments of being one of the main instruments of underground economy and organized crime.

Former bank employees from banks in Switzerland (UBS, Julius Baer) and Liechtenstein (LGT Group) have testified that their former institutions helped clients evade billions of dollars in taxes by routing money through offshore havens in the Caribbean and Switzerland. One of these, Rudolf Elmer, wrote in the New York Times, “It is a global problem…Offshore tax evasion is the biggest theft among societies and neighbour states in this world.”

The Swiss Parliament ratified on June 17, 2010 an agreement between the Swiss and the United States governments allowing UBS to transmit to the US authorities information concerning 4,450 American clients of UBS suspected of tax evasion.

Van Persie’s spot-kick sinks unlucky Liverpool

Manchester United earned a much desired victory against a 10-man Reds of Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon as a Robin Van Persie late penalty did the magic for the Red Devils.

Jonjo Shelvey’s sending-off brought down the host’s team to 10 men but still managed to take the lead through Steven Gerrard’s volley seconds after the interval.

Shelvey robbed Ryan Giggs in midfield but as the ball broke free he launched himself at Jonny Evans and the inevitable outcome was a red card.

However, Rafael equalised soon after and Van Persie, one of three United players to miss from the spot this term, scored his fourth goal in as many games against the Reds – although three of those had come for former side Arsenal – nine minutes from time.

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra shook hands in a show of unity before the game – the Liverpool forward had refused to shake the United defender’s hand in the league meeting between the sides at Old Trafford in February, having previously been found guilty of racially abusing Evra in the corresponding fixture at Anfield last season.

Second-half substitute Suso, making his Premier League debut three days after his first-team bow in Switzerland, saw his cross half-cleared to Glen Johnson. A tackle from Paul Scholes, on for Nani at half-time, succeeded only in diverting the ball towards Gerrard who volleyed home left-footed in front of the Kop.

It was short-lived, however, as within five minutes United were level when Shinji Kagawa laid the ball off for Rafael to brilliantly curl left-footed over Jose Reina and in off the far post.

Daniel Agger and Johnson collided to allow Antonio Valencia to race 50 yards into the area and although Johnson got back he could only bring down the Ecuador international. Van Persie drilled home – although Reina went the right way and almost made the stop.

Federer,Cancellara to head Swiss Olympic team

The Swiss Olympic Committee has announced that Roger Federer and Fabian Cancellara will be leading the Switzerland team comprising of 102 athletes to the London Olympics.

Reeling out the objective of the team, the committee said the team for Switzerland is aiming to claim 8 to 10 medals but realistically what is satisfactory to the committee is between 5 medals and 7 medals.

In Bejing Olympics four years ago, Switzerland boasted of 84 athletes and carted away seven medals which Federer and partner Stanislas Wawrinka’s gold medal in men’s tennis doubles and Cancellara’s gold in the men’s road time trial in cycling was amongst.

Swiss Olympic says it refused a national tennis federation request to pick Romina Oprandi, the 66th-ranked woman who switched eligibility from Italy this year.

Switzerland’s chances in the London Olympics got a bigger boost with a first singles gold for Federer on grass courts at Wimbledon as they will be defending their titles.

Abacha’s son absent at Swiss trial again

The trial of Abba Abacha, son of late Military President Sani Abacha, began in his absence in Switzerland on Wednesday, for the second time in two years.

Abba, who is accused of misappropriating funds while his father was in power, was said to be unable to travel after a road accident, his counsel told the Swiss court.

At a previous trial in 2010, the young Abacha failed to turn up at court after Swiss authorities refused to grant him a visa.

Counsel to the defendant, Christian Luscher, was quoted by Swiss news that the accident happened last Thursday in Kano, where  Abba lives. He is said to have sustained head injuries and whiplash from the accident.

A medical certificate and police report were produced at the court to back up the claim, before the lawyer asked for the trial to be adjourned till his client is fit to travel.

Late Sani Abacha is estimated to have siphoned about $2 billion off the nation’s wealth, of which $700 million has been returned  from Swiss bank accounts to the Nigerian government.

Another $400 million is believed to be in Luxembourg, lawyers for the federal government have said.

At his initial trial in 2010, Abba Abacha received a two-year suspended sentence.

The presiding judges also ordered the confiscation of $350 million dollars from his accounts in Luxembourg and the Bahamas.

The judgment was annulled by Switzerland’s Supreme Court after it found that Abba’s rights had been violated since he was tried in absentia.

Abacha’s son to face fresh Swiss trial

The son of former military head of state Sani Abacha, Abba Abacha, will face a new trial in Switzerland starting July 4 on charges of participation in a criminal organisation that raided public funds, his lawyer announced on Friday.

Abba’s lawyer, Christian Luescher, told Swiss news agency ATS that his client wanted to come to Geneva to attend the trial.

During a previous trial in 2010, Abba did not attend as he was unable to obtain a visa. The court convicted him in absentia, handing down a two-year suspended prison term and confiscating his assets.

But he won an appeal over procedural irregularities and the fact that he was unable to obtain a visa in time.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal therefore ordered the sentence annulled and a retrial.

If he is unable to get a visa this time, the new trial will be delayed.

Abba, 43, denies all charges.

Sani Abacha took over power in  1993. Until his death in 1998, he siphoned off an estimated $2 billion from the country’s central bank, including $700 million that was deposited in Swiss banks.

 

Roy Hodgson confirmed as England manager

The Football Association of England has confirmed Roy Hodgson as the new manager responsible for the English national team a in 4 year deal which will end after the conclusion of Euro 2016.

It was agreed that he will not be leaving West Brom his present club just yet but until the club plays its last two games to end the English Premier League as the management of West brom and the English FA agreed to conclude Hodgson’s deal.

The English FA earlier in the day a statement was released confirming the new deal with the 64-year old today at 4pm.

Roy Hodgson took Switzerland to the FIFA World Cup in 1994 – their first Finals competition for 28 years and he also achieved a FIFA ranking of third in the world as well as successfully qualifying the Switzerland for Euro 96.”

West Brom has been left in a limbo now and serious search for a replacement of their former coach as the club management expressed disappointment despite agreeing with the coach to leave the club. However club Chairman (West Brom), Jeremy Peace says the management would have liked him to sign a new contract with club and talks were already in process.

May 13th which will mark West Bromwich’s last game for the season will also mark the departure of Roy Hodgson as the head coach of West Bromwich Albion.

Background

Roy Hodgson was born 9 August 1947.

He has managed sixteen different teams in eight countries one of which was the Switzerland national team that he guided to the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup and qualification for Euro 1996; Switzerland had not qualified for a major tournament since the 1960s.

From 2006 to 2007, he managed the Finland national team, guiding them to their highest ever FIFA ranking of 33rd place, and coming close to qualifying for a major tournament for the first time in their history.

He has been the beaten finalist in the UEFA Cup, with Inter Milan in 1997 and the UEFA Europa League with Fulham FC in 2010.

Hodgson has also coached many notable club sides including, Blackburn Rovers, Grasshoppers, FC Copenhagen, Udinese and Liverpool.

He has served several times as a member of UEFA’s technical study group at the European Championships, and was also a member of the FIFA technical study group at the 2006 World Cup.

Hodgson speaks five languages and has worked as a television pundit in several of the countries in which he has coached.

Eurozone countries donate $34 billion to IMF

IMF director Christine Lagarde has welcomed pledges from Switzerland, Poland and other countries to provide some $34 billion in additional funding for the world lender.

Lagarde, in separate statements late Wednesday, singled out Switzerland and Poland for increasing their contributions, hailing their “enduring support for the spirit of multilateralism.”

“Ensuring the Fund has sufficient resources to tackle crises and to promote global economic stability is in the interests of all our members,” she said.

The IMF statement said “Switzerland and other countries” had pledged $26 billion of increased funding while Poland had agreed to provide $8 billion.

“This brings to about $320 billion the commitments received so far. I am, (of) course, very encouraged by this strong demonstration of support for the Fund, and I look forward to further commitments from our broader membership.”

In a Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung interview published this week, Lagarde revealed that the International Monetary Fund is seeking some $400 billion for expanding its crisis intervention “firepower.”

That was sharply lower than the original target of $500 billion. Last week Lagarde said the Fund was lowering its target, citing a slight easing of financial tensions, both globally and in the eurozone.

The pledges from Switzerland are in addition to previous pledges for increased contributions from the Euro Area of €150 billion (about US$200 billion); Japan of US$60 billion; Sweden of at least US$10 billion; Norway of SDR 6 billion (about US$9.3 billion); Poland of €6.27 billion (about US$8 billion); and Denmark’s Nationalbank of €5.3 billion (about US$7.0 billion), and Japan, which pledged $60 billion.