Friday, August 21, 2009

The Swiss President apologizes to Libya and UBS surrenders the names of 4450 account holders to the US

Is Switzerland loosing its power? Two incidents within just two days provide evidence to this.

After Swiss banking giant UBS AG agreed on Wednesday to turn over to the IRS the details of 4,450 accounts suspected of holding undeclared assets by American customers, piercing Switzerland's long-standing tradition of banking secrecy, another piece of news show Swiss weakness.

Further to my earlier comment about the incident in Geneva that led to the arrest of Hannibal Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi, I now read that Hans-Rudolf Merz, the Swiss president, has apologised to the Libyan people over the arrest of the son of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, in Geneva a year ago.
"I express to the Libyan people my apologies for the unjust arrest of Libyan diplomats by Geneva police," Merz said at a joint news conference in Tripoli with Baghdadi Mahmudi, the Libyan prime minister.
Libya responded to the arrests by suspending oil deliveries to Switzerland, withdrawing assets worth an estimated $7bn from Swiss banks, ending bilateral co-operation programmes and placing restrictions on Swiss companies.
Two Swiss businessmen in Libya were also banned from leaving the country.
Merz said at Thursday's news conference that "the Libyans have assured me that they [the two businessmen] will be allowed to leave before September 1".
"Today I have fulfilled my mission and achieved my goals of wiping the slate clean of last year's incident and opening the Libyan market" to Swiss firms once again, the president said.
After more than a year of strained relations between the two countries, Merz said "it is a satisfying outcome for me".
Mahmudi said Libya and Switzerland would set up a joint committee to examine what he called the "tragic incident" in Geneva.
The prime minister said: "Today we have been able to take a first step towards solving this problem.
"Switzerland has presented its official and solemn apologies concerning the unjust arrest of the son [of Gaddafi].
Last month, Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss foreign minister, said her country was trying to organise a meeting between Merz and the Libyan leader to defuse the crisis.
For Switzerland, the dispute is "a matter of law, while for Libya it is a matter of honour," she said.

For more information about Gaddafi's children and their activities see here.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:26 pm

    quite interesting post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did anyone hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.