(June 2013) The Swiss House of Representatives today voted against a planned law allowing Swiss banks to hand over data of suspected tax dodgers to the United States. The bill will now go back to the Senate. A majority of opponents on Tuesday argued the law violated Swiss sovereignty and didn't provide either enough information about possible consequences or assurances from the US to protect bank employees. The vote: 126 against, 67 for, is a short-term blow against efforts to resolve a standoff between the US and Swiss banks that had facilitated tax evasion. Nevertheless, the days of Swiss banking secrecy are numbered. Meanwhile, the European Union has called on Switzerland to agree to swift and unconditional negotiations on the introduction of an automatic exchange of banking information – - doing away with banking secrecy to crack down on tax evasion by foreign asset holders.
(June 2013) Moves are underway to increase the “Swissness” of manufactured products in Switzerland. One sector where the Swiss-made label is being hotly debated is the watch industry. At present, at least 50% of the components of watch movements have to be Swiss but a lobby group wants to increase the rate.
(June 2013) Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical giant, dates from the 1920s and had its genesis in two small Danish companies Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium and Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium founded in 1923 and 1925, respectively. The companies started the production of the revolutionary new drug insulin that had just been discovered by two Canadian scientists. Today Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest maker of insulin, has 35,000 employees across the globe, including some 15,000 in Denmark, and has been slapped with a 5.5bn Danish crown ($1bn) tax demand involving the use of Switzerland for tax avoidance.
(June 2013) Switzerland is one of the most innovative economies in Europe. However, its previous position at the top of the rankings has now passed to Denmark. On a European comparison, Swiss SMEs are particularly innovative. This is demonstrated by the recent survey of innovation in the Swiss economy, drawing upon data from 2,300 companies.
(June 2013) Carl Elsener opened a cutlery workshop to deliver a soldier knife to the Swiss army in 1884; he had a revolutionary idea in mind. He was looking for a compact and sturdy knife, which offered many functions combined in a single tool. What he invented has long become a legend: the Original Swiss Army Knife. His grandson Carl Elsener III, the man who brought the Swiss army knife to global markets through his family’s Victorinox brand, died on Tuesday at the age of 90.
(June 2013) swissinfo.ch: Switzerland is heading “irreversibly” towards the automatic exchange of tax information, according to the French ambassador to Switzerland.
(May 2013) The US regained its top position in a competitiveness ranking of 60 economies, with Switzerland rose in second place. The United Arab Emirates rose to eighth place from 16th while the Netherlands dropped to 14th from 11th. Germany kept its ranking at ninth place while France was 28th. Ireland moved up from 20th ranking to 17th.
(May 2013) From swissinfo.ch: Swiss banks will be allowed to pass on more confidential information to the United States authorities to clear up the ongoing tax evasion row between the two countries, the government announced on Wednesday.
(May 2013) France and Germany have agreed joint steps to speed up the adoption of legislation to fight tax evasion in the European Union and the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA is seen as a model. Tax-related issues are top of the agenda when EU leaders meet in Brussels today Wednesday. Herman Van Rompuy, European Council president, said last month that a trillion euros - - the size of the Spanish GDP, the Eurozone's fourth-largest economy - - are lost in tax evasion and tax avoidance every year.
(April 2013) Bayern Munich, the German football club, stunned Spain's Barcelona on Tuesday night with a 4-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. However, Uli Hoeness, Bayern Munich's president, has been getting public attention for issues other than sport. He has admitted that he hid money in a Swiss bank account for years without paying taxes on it. It's still not clear exactly how much he was hiding, nor how much he owes in back taxes. But media reports suggest that amount could be several million euros. By turning himself in to tax authorities, Hoeness might get around a sentence which could have included a hefty fine or even a prison sentence. The issue of personal tax havens, tax evasion and massive corporate tax avoidance have been receiving serious attention in recent months from politicians and in France, Jérôme Cahuzac, the budget minister, resigned over allegations of tax fraud, holding a Swiss bank account and money laundering with funds later sent to Singapore to avoid disclosure. Germany, the UK and France are pushing the Group of Eight and the Group of Twenty countries to agree measures that would reduce corporate tax avoidance and earlier this month, Herman Van Rompuy, European Council president, said tax evasion and fraud had been put on the agenda of next month's summit of European Union leaders, saying the region could no longer afford to be complacent when about €1tn is lost in EU member states to tax evasion every year.