Why Switzerland is Not Amused by Miss Swiss Bank Account (a.k.a. Romney Girl)

The country is chagrined that it continues to be thought of as the hideaway for ill-gotten gains. Why don’t Americans pick on Delaware?

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According to what passes for a biography, Heidi Svenda Bernasconi, a.k.a  “Miss Swiss Bank Account,” is originally from Ostermundigen, a town of 15,000 people in central Switzerland. The daughter of a cuckoo clock maker and a Nestle chocolate factory worker, she recently moved to Searchlight, Nevada, joining a Swiss expat community of retired yodelers and milkmaids.

With her braided blonde hair and a traditional Swiss costume, this sexier version of the quintessential Swiss mountain girl is a self-proclaimed “Romney Girl.” She reportedly met the presidential contender while she worked as a tax consultant at the UBS bank in Geneva, where the former head of Bain Capital frequently showed up unannounced and shouted, “Thank God for amnesty!”

(MORE: Welcome to Switzerland: An Olympic PR Blitz for London 2012)

Perhaps Miss Swiss Bank Account would have continued a life of anonymity, yodeling for Searchlight’s 539 residents and milking cows in the Nevada desert, if she hadn’t recorded her first single, “I’m a Romney Girl.” And that’s when the trouble began.

Released last month, the video clip, which so far received over half a million hits on YouTube, exalts the virtues of a “taxless life” and boasts about Romney’s accounts in offshore tax shelters, including Switzerland.

If this story sounds unreal, that’s because it is. Although she has her own website – where she can be seen posing not only with Romney, but also with Newt Gingrich – Miss Swiss Bank Account is as fictional as Heidi herself.

The song, a parody of the 1990s hit “Barbie Girl,” is clearly intended as a tongue-in-cheek dig at Romney’s unwillingness to release his tax records and his now-closed bank account in Switzerland.  Swiss authorities, however, are not amused.

“The clip gives the impression that having a bank account in Switzerland is dubious in itself, and its only aim is to hide money from the tax authorities,” Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry said soon after the video was released.

And Swiss Embassy officials in Washington complained about it to President Obama’s campaign staff. But the clip turned out to be the brainchild of the Agenda Project / Action Fund, an “organization dedicated to ensuring that public officials serve regular Americans,” according to its website, and not affiliated with the Obama campaign.

(MORE: The War on Offshore Tax Havens)

Still, it is easy to understand why the Swiss are annoyed by the clip’s not-so-subtle allusions to their country as a haven for tax evaders – especially since this is not the first American jab at Switzerland’s banks. Throughout the campaign, Obama’s re-election team has run TV ads showing Romney singing “America the Beautiful” against the backdrop of the Swiss flag and a headline saying, “He had millions in a Swiss bank account.”

“Each misleading comment about our banks is harmful to our reputation,” Sindy Schmiegel, a spokesperson for the Swiss Bankers Association, an umbrella group representing the nation’s financial institutions tells TIME. “We make every effort to explain to everyone everywhere that we mange only taxed assets and have strict measures in place to prevent criminal activities.”

In fact, Switzerland’s reputation as a hiding place for ill-gotten gains is unjustified. Various laws make money laundering illegal and require that suspicious deposits be reported to the authorities. And numbered or anonymous bank accounts are a myth — all financial institutions in Switzerland must identify their customers and ensure that the funds come from legitimate sources.

But despite all the strictly enforced laws and regulations, Switzerland can’t shake off its longstanding reputation for “dirty” banking, even though the Swiss media often points out that thousands of “dummy” companies set up in Delaware are helping U.S. corporations evade taxes in their own country.

So how can the Swiss deal with the damage that the Romney Girl may or may not have inflicted on their country’s image?

The answer could lay in the geographic confusion. As a Geneva politician Manuel Tornare suggested last week in an interview with the Edipresse media group, “If you are a Swiss person in America, a lot of people will think you are from Sweden. Some of them will even tell you how beautiful Stockholm is.”

The Swedes may not like the sound of it, but to the Swiss, this solution may indeed be something to sing about.

MORE: Switzerland Has its Own Kind of Obamacare–And Loves It

92 comments
jackloach69
jackloach69

Update --- Jan. 1st. 2014.


Pictet & Cie Bank ---- List of Crimes.

1996 ----- F.S.A--- Breach in London.


2003 ----- F.S.A. -- States rogues operating in Pictet's London office. Ivan Pictet

states that documents were forgeries but were later proved to be genuine in

the British Courts. He had documents destroyed in their London office --

hoping to hide the crimes.


2007 .- - - The Securities and Exchange Surveillance issued a recommendation

that the Prime Minister and The Commissioner of the FSA to take disciplinary action against Pictet Asset Management – Japan Ltd.


2008 .-- Dec. - Pictet Bank state - " We have never chosen any funds linked to Madoff.


2011 - - - Madoff Trustees sue Pictet & Cie. Bank for $156 Million.


2011- - - Pictet & Cie Bank abetted a Bribery Scheme - Oil company sues Pictet for $350Million


2012 - - - April – Geneva Bank Pictet used in Offshore Tax Scheme. ( USA.)


2012 -- - June. -- Published in Anglo INFO .Geneva.--- USA Trust Fund Investors were sent false and fraudulent documents by Pictet Bank in order to collect large fees. ( Like MADOFF)

Even after the SEC in the USA uncovered the fraud Pictet continued to charge fees and drain whatever was left in these accounts. Estimated that $90 million lost in this Pictet Ponzi scheme.


2012 - - - July. -- De – Spiegel. -- states – Pictet Bank uses a letterbox company in

Panama and a tax loophole involving investments in London to gain

German millionaires as clients.

2012 - - - August ---- German Opposition Leader accuses Swiss Banks of "organised crime."


2013 --- Jan.--- Swiss MP' table motion to freeze Tiab Mahmud's assets of " criminal origins"

held in Swiss banks – $18 million held in 5 accounts at Pictet & Cie. Bank. Bahamas.


Ironically the Pictet & Cie.Bank partners are bigger criminals than the criminals who have accounts in the their bank.


The bank is now seeking to re-structure -- to cut the partners liability – hoping to off load their decades of criminal responsibilty – and move onwards to carry out new crimes. The Germans are right -- the bankers should go to prison if found guilty of financial crimes..

MahfuzMunir-Khan
MahfuzMunir-Khan

switzerland and bermuda, both notorious for anonymous bank accounts! 

DutyOfYouth
DutyOfYouth

The author of this article is a lying apologist. She's from Geneva and probably on the payroll of a Swiss Bank or a Swiss Bank Trade Association.

While she may be technically correct that it is illegal for Swiss Banks to engage in "Money Laundering", that misdirects from the core point entirely.

The sad fact is: "it is NOT ILLEGAL to engage in TAX EVASION in Switzerland". There is a Big difference between Money Laundering and Tax Evasion, but in most countries both are illegal. In Switzerland, they prefer to parse words around "tax evasion" and "non-reporting" and "lying on your taxes", but in any honest country again those are all illegal - but not so in Switzerland. This juggling of legalese and the Swiss government's refusal to even report account details to other countries unless they "already have proof" of a crime - HOW EXACTLY CAN SOMEONE PROVE A CRIME IF SWITZERLAND REFUSES TO REPORT CHEATERS - is how Switzerland keeps living like a leach off of honest and civilized societies. 

Let's see, who were the bankers for Germany during WWII? And who refused to return the savings of millions of victims from WWII? You got it: SWITZERLAND. Switzerland makes the 47% look like the 1%.

bzelbub
bzelbub

There is a reason why most credit cards and large banking accounts are based in Delaware. The ability to hide money on shore in Delaware, is considered to be a good thing its more AMERICAN.  Going offshore is BAD because it is foreign.

Off to another question, since Mittens spent five years in FRANCE doing missionary work for the LDS, does that mean he will be  the first Republican to speak FRENCH when disparaging them politically??

Ronhelio
Ronhelio

Mitt Romney is like O.J. Simpson.  Simpson is court ordered to pay the Goldman family over $33 Million, but instead of settling up, he moves to Florida and transfers all his assets to his family so O.J.'s money is "fini gone."  Mitt does the same thing; transfers over $100 Million to his family and pads his IRA with another $100 Million.  And that is exclusive of his secret, offshore bank accounts.  One side calls him a tax evader, and the other loves him for being "business savvy."  The political right will laugh it off - while unfair and unjust, hey, it's not against the law.  (Or, at least, not much against the law… I know there's a loophole somewhere, I just have to find it….)

And you have to love the Swiss too: "Various laws make money laundering illegal and require that suspicious deposits be reported to the authorities."  Right, we have money laundering laws in the US too, but how often is anyone caught, and when caught, what happens other than very little.  The rich and powerful, with their creative accounting tricks, rarely get caught, and what the Romney's literally bank on, is that if caught they pay a fine of pennies on the dollar.  Like Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) being fined $160 Million in 2010 for laundering more than $378.4 BILLION of drug cartel cash.  British banking giant HSBC was fined $27.5 Million this year for laundering $7 BILLION in cartel money.  Bank of America (or as Romney calls it, Bank of Amercia) was busted for cartel accounts, but per usual "admitted no wrongdoing."  These are the mom and pop banks, not the tax haven banks.

In 2009, UBS, just one of more than 300 Swiss banks paid $780 Million for aiding tax cheats.  Tax evasion is so pervasive the Tax Justice Network estimates that $21-$32 Trillion is hidden from tax authorities.  When UBS was busted, they too could only guesstimate that around 52,000 (yes, 52 THOUSAND) of their accounts were held by Americans.  Of course, virtually nothing has been done.  Supposedly the IRS only has a handful of names (8%-9%), and they offered the amnesty that apparently Mitt took (but since all that is still hidden from taxpayers we will likely never know).

Anyway, if you want to hide your money from the IRS then Romney will know how you go about it, well, Mitt or his army of accountants.  Or Mitt's sons could probably tell you.

Kind of an aside, but I do not believe Mitt is afraid of releasing his tax returns because it might damage his image with voters.  The party of rape, the party of torture, and the self-proclaimed party of stupid (per Joe Scarborough, Jeb Bush etc) are going to vote for Romney no matter what.  I do believe the only thing Mitt is afraid of is the Mormon Church.  When they find out Romney has been shortchanging them they are going to be pissed, and that fallout is not going to be pretty.

Beth Williams
Beth Williams

It is still possible to open a bank account in Switzerland and then deposit as much cash as you wish without any questions. The Swiss would be nowhere without the vast money laundering industry.

Sharp Shtik
Sharp Shtik

Socialists and communists such as American Democrats are socially and financially retarded. Many humans are inherently lazy and require motivation to do something useful, which is why capitalism is required. Most countries have various mixes of socialism and capitalism with varying results. Too many countries, including the US, have socialists in charge who operate Third Way socialist economies rather than free-enterprise economies. Socialists pass laws forcing individuals and entities to risk or redistribute their wealth to benefit lazy socialists with loans they don't qualify for, with health insurance they don't pay for, with educations, meals, healthcare, attorneys, etc. they don’t pay for.  Socialists force useful, responsible people to prop up useless, irresponsible people.  Why?  For their political support.  If  weak democracy where any loser can vote were ended in favor of strong democracy then there would be a return to capitalism and charity over socialism and armed robbery wealth redistribution.  Socialists want freedom without responsibility, wealth without work, representation without taxation, crime without punishment, religion without morality and nations without borders to encourage socialist invasions.  Socialists are enemies of freedom/individual rights because their definition of their right is stealing someone else’s rights, e.g., wealth.

flowforth
flowforth

Romney's reported investment income (i.e. Capital Gains) is derived from

investments, not foreign bank accounts. Perhaps you would dictate that

use his money as you wish, but he wouldn't maintain the level of income

he does without a significant investment. According to the Wash post, his 2011 tax burden was approx 3.2 million. In taxes and charities, the Romneys paid 42% of their 2011 income...a much higher rate than most. Liberal politicians don't like

the fact that they can't control how and to whom charitable contributions are made.Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/08/...

Big_Bear
Big_Bear

With the US continuing to punish savers by paying low interest rates, offshore accounts can be attractive.    There is no evidence Romney hid money to avoid taxes offshore (as offshore accounts are subject to US taxes) or the media would have revealed it years ago.

prestalex
prestalex

The Cayman Islands just lodged an official protest for having NOT been mentioned in this video....

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

Nonsense, All Switzerland has done is to ensure that all money that finally arrives there has already been thoroughly laundered so that they can bask in the luxury of having all that foreign capital without having to worry about whether anybody will try and take it back.

It is where the biggest and most successful crooks keep their money, not the hoy poloy.

A lot of Switzerland's wealth and standard of living comes from acting as a wealth shelter to the rich and famous and infamous so they are entirely culpable.

Lara B.
Lara B.

I am Swiss and I love this article and the video clip. 

From the article:

“The

clip gives the impression that having a bank account in Switzerland is

dubious in itself, and its only aim is to hide money from the tax

authorities,” Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry said soon after the video

was released.

Take Greece for example, many people who got large amounts of money never declared them to the country and brought them to Switzerland. No wonder Greece is going bankrupt since the very rich don't pay their taxes (or declare to earn 1000 eur while they actually get another 10'000 black). Do you know how many pensioners there are who are still working at 70-75 and anyway get their pension...? they earn everything black, they cost to the country, and they take away jobs from young people! I could go on with hundreds of examples.... let's get back to the point. My question is: do Swiss banks actually check where the money comes from? Do they communicate with the country of residence of their customers to check if taxes were paid? I doubt or else all these people would be paying their taxes! How come a Greek friend of mine, owning just 1000 sfr, came to live in Switzerland and could not open a bank account because he did not have (yet) a residence permit and others who bring millions and live abroad actually open accounts?

From the article:

"In fact, Switzerland’s reputation as a hiding place for ill-gotten

gains is unjustified. Various laws make money laundering illegal and

require that suspicious deposits be reported to the authorities. And

numbered or anonymous bank accounts are a myth — all financial

institutions in Switzerland must identify their customers and ensure

that the funds come from legitimate sources."

I believe they find

ways to make things "legal". Just because the law makes it legally

right, it doesn't mean it is morally right. But Banks and Large Corporations make the rules...

Amanda Guyton
Amanda Guyton

News flash, Switzerland: Swiss Bank accounts have been iconic symbols of tax evasion and money laundering for decades. The history of Swiss banking and its reputation for allowing money-hiding is pretty well-known world-wide. 

VCMD
VCMD

A lot of sumbocrats here talking about bottom up economics where everyone wants to be at the bottom and thus there is no incentive and reason for growth! They should be very happy about the direction the country is going and soon everyone will be poor! The greedy rich will be gone! However they don't realize that if those rich people are gone, there is no one to pay taxes to feed the welfare state! We won't be able to make even SS payments and people will be rioting on streets! Does it sound similar to Greece?

Steve Solomon
Steve Solomon

LOL....."the Swiss are annoyed".

They weren't so 'annoyed' in WWII, when the Germans were looting Europe, and stashing their booty in Swiss banks.

TheCur13
TheCur13

Harmful to their reputation?  Free advertising is more like it.

Vince Vuong
Vince Vuong

Wait wait wait... I'm supposed to believe that banks are good and not liars? And to believe that a bank wouldn't do anything to keep a multimillionaire as their customer??? I mean, it is bad enough that Paul Ryan is a child molester and Romney wants to baptize all your dead relatives when he becomes president but have people lie for you? That's the work of the devil. God help us all if Romney become's president -- because we are all going to get shot, raped, or both.

Rob Allen
Rob Allen

 Yes, I'll be sure to remember your post 6 months from now...  lol

gunnin101
gunnin101

It's so easy to blame the rich OR the poor for the problems we have, and I am saddened by how easily the people of this country are lead astray by this diversionary tactic.  The fact is we ALL need to quit whining, buck up, quit spending more than we can afford, quit looking to the government for hand outs, quit suing everyone over everything, obey the law, work hard at our jobs, our education or whatever our chosen vocation is, and follow the golden rule.

I will give Paul Ryan credit for at least telling the American public that we have some hard work ahead of us if we are to get out of this mess.  Unfortunately, I am not very optimistic that without an outside emergency/disaster to galvanize our spirit and bring us together, that we will ever get there, and will go down like every other super power before us.

Rob Allen
Rob Allen

“The clip gives the impression that having a bank account in Switzerland

is dubious in itself, and its only aim is to hide money from the tax

authorities,”

And?

Daniel Garigan
Daniel Garigan

This is the first day that I can see that this military operation has "morphed" into an international conflict. To be sure there will be no measures passed by the UN Security Counsel one way or the other.  That said, the Iranian position that it is normal that the Syrian military should have weapons aplenty seems a bit sophmoric... and then idiotic to say the "rebels" should disarm.  Watch the next round... it is what it should never have been. The UN has been a failure and anyone can blame someone; the result remains... failure. This is no longer not likey to be Civil War... but a Regional war..  The UN be damned.

1happy_grrl1
1happy_grrl1

“Each misleading comment about our banks is harmful to our reputation,” Sindy Schmiegel, a spokesperson for the Swiss Bankers Association, an umbrella group representing the nation’s financial institutions tells TIME. Nah, more like free advertising like the Cayman Islands get from mob, money laundering, gangster movies....business should pick up with the 'free' reminder about Swiss participation! LOL 

Joe Doe
Joe Doe

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, The Mormons hide their money over seas to hide money, so they can remain a non profit organization, and for tax breaks. Welcome to the Mitt Romney statuesque.....The rich get richer, cause they are not taxed on what they can hide overseas, and donate to their so called "church (tax shelter)"

scrag00
scrag00

hooray for ANYONE who avoids taxes.  Giving money to the FED is a complete waste of money.  They already take too much (illegally) in income taxes, then they turn around and just waste it.  The notion that we somehow "owe" or have an obligation to pay taxes is not only stupid but immoral.

onaturalia
onaturalia

Ya can't represent my interests if ya pay less tax than I do. So I vote for whoever pays as much tax as me.

onaturalia
onaturalia

That's funny. Suddenly the Swiss have a conscience about hidden bank accounts.

Robert Olsen
Robert Olsen

Gosh it would be a terrible thing if someone was successful and took advantage of legal methods to increase their wealth. I guarantee Bill Gates has money in foreign bakes, no one talks about him being a bad guy.  I wonder how many Obama supporters have Swiss and Caribbean bank account.  I wonder how many people who went to George Clooney's $10,000 a plate dinner to support Obama have foreign accounts.  I agree it may be a bit shady, but you can't sit there and talk about how terrible Romeny is for being too wealthy while at the same time having the very wealthy support your campaign.

John David Deatherage
John David Deatherage

Deep down, liberals don't believe in private property.  Except for themselves.  What's mine is mine and what's yours is society's.  

John David Deatherage
John David Deatherage

Foreign bank accounts are NOT synonymous with money laundering and tax evasion. Has the government accused Romney of either offense? No.  Its his money, let him do what he wants with it as long as its legal and he pays the tax off of the income derived from it.  We have a philosophical divide in this country.  The property that you own... do you really own it and is it yours do with as you please.  Conservatives say yes and liberals say no.  Now how do you feel about your money and your property?     

rastafeyd
rastafeyd

I can't help but wonder if the reason the characterization of Swiss banks as havens for money laundering and illicit behavior continues to haunt them is because of the belief among mostAmericans that German National Socialists kept their ill-gotten goods in Swiss bank accounts during World War II.

CatNews
CatNews

Am I the only one who finds the story and the clip funny? And it would be just as funny if it were about Obama rather than Romney, so it has nothing to do with politics.

Boulder Republcn
Boulder Republcn

Right. 

300 million murders and rapes.  That sounds totally plausible and likely.

Or, more likely, you're so full of it your eyes are brown.

Tony Yang
Tony Yang

you pay taxes to live in the country, if you don't want to pay taxes you can go live in other country that doesn't have taxes such as...somalia or north korea.

CatNews
CatNews

Actually, it's not "suddenly." They've cleaned up their banks and passed anti money laundering laws in the 1990s and have been running a clean operation since then. But Hollywood and media prefer to perpetuate all the lies. How do I know? Some expat friends live and work in Switzerland, so I have it from a good source.

Steve0T
Steve0T

 LOL, what an outlandishly inane comment. Are "BO's supporters" fighting the election? How can the person be directly  responsible for what his supporters ??

The contrast is between what BO does and what Rmoney does.

Steve0T
Steve0T

 And conservative believe that government spending is extremely  good on issues they support. Anything else is a waste.

pc1397
pc1397

Nonsense, plain and simple.

COfoEVA
COfoEVA

 It is an issue of character.

CatNews
CatNews

Yes, but can banks nowadays be blamed for what happened 60 years ago? It's the same as blaming the current US administration for the way Japanese Americans were treated during the war.

Bryan Miller
Bryan Miller

 The thing about how Americans think the Swiss are Swedes was really funny.

COfoEVA
COfoEVA

 Really they are running a "clean" operation since 1990's?  Why then in 2009 did the united states investigate tax haven bank accounts in Switzerland against their protests and find tens of thousands of people were illegally hiding money there and not paying taxes.  Then these people were offered amnesty for their felony by paying back all the taxes they owed plus interest.

Does this sound like a legit operation?  Dont kid yourself and your expat friends.  They still harbor money for tax dodgers, and I also have it from a good source, the FBI.

rastafeyd
rastafeyd

I would think that people continuing to hold a sour view of Swiss banks which profitted from holding stolen gold, art and money of murdered individuals and conquered countries is not comparable.  Arguably no, no one should be blamed for what happened 60 years ago unless perhaps you've never made amends to the victims of the NAZI's and agreed to avoid taking money from dictators that knowingly steal from their people and commit democide. 

CoryStereo
CoryStereo

@Bryan Miller Well, when your country is insignificant, people in countries that matter are not likely to know who you are.

ExpatAmi
ExpatAmi

 You are incorrectly generalizing, blaming all of the deeds of the individual.  Your argument would work just as well with the US government or any government for that matter.  Crime exists everywhere and pointing fingers at Switzerland won't solve US problems.

rastafeyd
rastafeyd

By accepting the $1.25 billion US dollar settlement both UBS and Credit Suisse accepted guilt for wrong doings aka "proven guilty".  My original comment was that I'm not surprised Americans hold a poor perception of Swiss banks. You can bring up banks from other countries all you want and I won't dispute your arguments, but this argument is dealing with perceptions of Swiss banks.  Thanks for your comments. 

ExpatAmi
ExpatAmi

 In America, there is this thing called "innocent until proven guilty".  No proof means no guilt and no wrong doing.  Israel's Bank Leumi profited from the Holocaust but you seem to only have a major issue with innocent banks which did nothing wrong.  Why are you only upset with banks that did not profit from the suffering of Jews?

rastafeyd
rastafeyd

I suppose I mean Swiss banks other than UBS and Credit Suisse which agreed to the 2002 settlement after being sued in the American court system and being threatened with a boycott by American cities and states. Am I surprised that people have a poor view of Swiss banks even 65 years after WWII? No. I suppose I'm not surprised.

ExpatAmi
ExpatAmi

 Which "banks" are you talking about?  UBS?  UBS is one bank, not all banks.  You claim that UBS profited from WWII, but UBS paid a Jewish group over a billion dollars in a settlement, meaning that your claim of "profit" is false unless your talk of "profit" references the Jewish group.