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For the past years, the headlines in Europe and around the world have been filled with one tale after another about offshore havens, bad banking, money laundering, and official corruption.
By now these stories are sadly familiar. The time for endless fascination with the salacious details of particular cases is over.
It is time to do something about it.
Nothing less than the future of democracy is at stake.
For we have come to understand that this network of tax havens not only eludes the obligation to pay the due contributions that finance essential public services for the citizenry.
It also interferes directly with good governance and representative government.
It is virtually impossible for politicians and public officials to work for the common good when it is so easy for them to get rich in office and hide the “privatized” proceeds offshore.
THE PROBLEM – PERIPHERY AND CORE
Since the 1970s, this activity has proliferated. There are now more than 75 “secrecy jurisdictions” that facilitate official corruption as well as tax dodging, from Andorra, BVI and Cyprus to the Isle of Man, Singapore, and Vanuatu
However, when it comes to helping “PEPs” (“Politically-Exposed Persons”) move vast amounts of illicit wealth abroad, conceal it, and manage it from afar, the world capital of the global haven system is still Switzerland.
Serving PEPs is hardly a new activity for Swiss financial institutions. For at least two hundred years, Switzerland and its sister and partner Liechtenstein have been the preferred tax havens for corrupt European politicians and dictators who wanted to hide their illicit wealth.
Since World War II, and especially since the 1970s, Swiss financial institutions have managed to globalize these services to the entire world, serving corrupt PEPs on all continents.
Sadly, the Swiss federal government and various Swiss cantons appear to have been involved in abetting the growth of this semi-criminal, fully-immoral industry up to its eyeballs.
Today it is a multi-trillion € business, facilitating the corrupt transactions of businessmen, politicians and institutions worldwide, all with the protection of so-called “secrecy” laws that basically protect deeply-criminal activities.
The resulting innumerable bribes and kickbacks, the private enrichment at the expense of the public treasury, are literally a scourge on humanity. They bias public policy decisions in the direction of particular private interests. They permit these interests to combine excessive representation with minimal taxation and regulation. They degrade democracy at home and abroad.
Moreover, people like Hervé Falciani, who has the data of hundreds of Swiss accounts of PEPs from Europe and many other countries, are being treated as mere criminals instead of being protected. The information they could provide is ignored and thus the aforementioned deeply-criminal activities are by contrast protected instead.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
If we really want to have a significant impact on the problem of PEP corruption, we should focus the first round of this activity on the leader of the pack, that is Switzerland at this point, and it richly deserves our focused attention through concrete and coordinated actions of the EU citizens and of all EU institutions and all national and local governments.
This leads to the following call to action through:
EUROPEAN TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE
We, citizens of the European Union, are deeply concerned by this reality that contributes to a lack of transparency and probity in politics, and demand of all European Union institutions and each of the national governments, national assemblies, parliaments and congresses, and of all regional and local governments in the EU:
The establishment of an Independent Commission of Truth and Justice to investigate how Switzerland, Swiss banking and wealth managers and other tax havens have contributed to the concealment of corruption and tax evasion, and the erosion of public finances, governance, democracy and justice in all European countries.
The investigation of all accounts and hidden assets held by European PEPs in Switzerland in particular, and in other tax havens.
Criminal action in European courts against politicians and officials (and their families) who are found to have fortunes of illicit or unknown origin in Switzerland in particular, and in other tax havens.
Criminal action in European courts against any person, official or otherwise, of any nationality, who has been illegally enriched with European aid funds allocated to combat poverty and promote development in other countries.
Criminal action in European courts against all bankers, wealth managers, advisors and any public official from Switzerland or any other country who collaborated or conspired with them in their actions to defraud European Governments, or who assisted them in the concealment of ill acquired assets in Switzerland or in any other tax haven.
The urgent creation of a European fund for the reward, personal protection and asylum of any person and their family, nationals of any country, who help identify ill-gotten wealth and assist in the fight against tax evasion and crime in any European country.
That all public servants, political appointees and elected officials in Europe, including all of the EU institutions, be required by law to declare under oath that neither they nor their immediate relatives have hidden assets or secret accounts in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Singapore or any other place in the world.
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