Innocente made the following comment:
Swiss newspapers are reporting that two children of a Swiss asset manager were interrogated by US customs as to the whereabouts of their father, what their father did, whether their father made trips to the US, etc. They were entering the US to visit their grandparents. Sorry, interrogation of children looks like something from the Gestapo playbook. Here’s an article on it in French:
Les deux ados d’un gestionnaire de fortune genevois interpellés aux Etats-Unis
Here is a translation for the first couple paragraphs by Innocente:
“What a holiday! On a beautiful Sunday in May, two teenagers from Geneva and children of an asset manager took off from Geneva Airport. They left for the U.S. to visit their grandparents, who live in that country, while their parents remained in Switzerland. Upon arriving at the airport of a large city *, these two minors were given special attention of police. “Where is your dad? What does your dad do for a living? Has your dad ever worked in the United States? “Both young men were subject to these questions and others for six hours at the offices of the police. They weree not allowed to contact people outside. Throughout the questioning their parents and grandparents received no information. These facts, reported by a Swiss lawyer, suggest what a large part of the Swiss financial center have been fearing: the U.S. authorities have already begun to exploit the (employment) data delivered in April by five banks….”
Here is a partial translation thanks to Jefferson Tomas:
The banks recommend that their current and former employees whose names were transmitted to the other side of the Atlantic avoid going to the US. But such a precaution seems to be quite insufficient, considering the number of extradition treaties that exist. “I encourage my clients not to leave Switzerland” said Douglas Hornung, Attorney at Law in Geneva, who represents approximately 40 employees of banks involved in this matter.The disagreements go much further than a limited choice of vacation destinations, or family visits that must be postponed. Few banks in Switzerland or elsewhere, perhaps none at all, are interested in employing a “listed” bank employee from one of the 5 banks who gave data to the Department of Justice in order to avoid criminal prosecution. Careers risk being derailed because of this. « Banks are not afraid to expose their employees to potentially devastating consequences » wrote another newspaper “Le Temps” last month.
A double unknown makes the situation worse: nobody knows how the Yankee justice will use the information that they have harvested. Thousands of people are unaware that they are involved. [Sounds like many USPs] “If one had to inform everybody, one would be talking about thousands of persons…”, said the CEO of Credit Suisse, Brady Dougan [He is American I believe], “…If an employee is concerned, they can ask for information.” Ex-employees are only rarely informed.
Doubts about legality
This matter has caused accusations of treason in the Swiss financial world. Opinions of [legal] experts have only reinforced this. The Swiss Federal Commissioner on Data Privacy, Hanspeter Thür, has continually repeated his doubts about the legality of delivering employee data to the American administration. “The employer does not have the right to reveal the names of its employees. If it is compelled to do so, it must inform the employees, and cover any damages and legal fees, warns Thomas Geiser, Professor of Law at the University of Saint-Gallen.
The five banks implicated in the matter can certainly defend themselves. The Federal Council formally authorized the transfer to the DOJ of identity data concerning the 10’000 employees. This is inconsistent: in 1997, in exactly the same sort of circumstances, two banks asked for a similar authorization to respond to DOJ requests. The Federal Council refused it at that time considering that Swiss banking laws prevented such.
@Eric: every time a foreign national enters the US their eyes are scanned and their fingerprints are taken. From my experience everything is tied into the fingerprint. If they were dual citizens then the US would also have this biometric data from the US pass. From there it would be a simple task to find matching fingerprints from US persons and all foreigners who enter the US.
@ConfederateH Yes, but so far it’s only fingerprints, not DNA samples. I’m worried about some commenters on this website who were U.S. citizens at the time of their childrens’ birth, but never registered them with the U.S. consulate and hope their kids can get by without ever being detected. In that case, the U.S. wouldn’t have their fingerprints on file as belonging to U.S. citizens. The question is whether or not ICE now has the capacity to link them back to their ex-U.S. parents even if they’re not travelling together and the kids only hold non-U.S. passports.
Up until recently, the assumption by ICE has been that U.S. citizenship is such a desirable status that everyone would try to go register their kids at the consulate, and the consulate’s main job would be to screen out the unqualified (i.e. the kids of U.S. citizen parents who didn’t themselves spend at least five years in the U.S.). Now as this assumption is starting to fall apart, their whole model will have to change — they are no longer bouncers keeping people out, but bounty hunters trying to find people who are looking to keep hidden.
“bounty hunters trying to find people who are looking to keep hidden.”
How true. As I wrote above, they connected our Swiss cousin’s parents to children because they had previously traveled to the US together.
The US army developed loads of population control technology during the Iraq war they have biometrics on 10% of the population that they never gave up! In the picture they appear to be doing something with eye scans, and they have that technology all over every airport. Now think of the military industrial complex trying to sell this technology to DHS and lobbying all up and down k-street.
My children have dual citizenship and US passes, certainly not my greatest legacy. My son was arrested falsely in Switzerland a couple of years back and they took his DNA. Later they claimed that they would delete his data which they had illegally entered into Interpol. Yeah right, now he has that cross to bear for the rest of his life. But at least he learned an important lesson about what he doesn’t want for his son.
Its for your own safety, slave. Learn to like it.
@ Confederate, thanks for sharing these thoughts and the Swiss perspective. I am convinced that this story is true, especially after hearing your own experience–which I also believe to be true. Now that Nobledreamer has published her post of how the IRS will be hooked up to DHS, the police state has completed its noose.
Mopsick created a bit of stir with his false accusations of anti-semitism. Some people left. Sally left because of my post about Robert Leone. She was afraid that this site had started turning down the road of anti-Americanism. I suppose this means we should sugarcoat what the United States is doing, or risk losing other readers.
But if the United States continues to tighten its grip on expats, when it starts terrorizing children of bankers (and children of expats is next), if the United States illegally misleads its own people about how many expatriates that there are, how can this site avoid exposing what is happening there? Some of us fear returning to the United States–I am one. Others, including the man who made the Hitler spoof, won’t be returning either. You, ConfederateH, have also indicated a strong aversion to returning to the United States.
This story has been vetted by the Tribune de Geneve; they have a little note with the asterix: Les lieux exacts sont connus de la rédaction — “The TDG knows the exact localities” –in other words they have withheld the locations, likely to protect family, including the children and their grandparents. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they publish the location, except that this family fears further scrutiny and backlash?
Events like your story and the story of these children send a chill dread upon the enter international community–or should do so, except that some people say we shouldn’t even tell this story (or be considered “raving morons”); the mainstream press in Canada and the US seem to be largely avoiding such stories. Furthermore, we should avoid seeing any similarities between this and other events in history that are comparable.
Gestapo–Just Me, you’re right, it’s not Gestapo, which was short for Geheime Staatspolizei — Secret State Police — What the Nazis did in secret, the United States does with its “Out in the Open Police State” (OOPS). This is being done right out in the open. It has specific targets: Swiss bankers and their children, ex-Americans, expats with debts to the IRS. OOPS will soon broaden its scope and tighten its squeeze. This is the way tyranny happens. First they use the excuse that they are protecting the people; they create the mechanism to detect all manner of terrorists in the name of security. Now they are using the terrorist net that they wove to catch tax evaders and their enablers. Incredible.
The US started as a libertarian state, with low taxes and constitutional rights to protect the private property rights of the people. It is now a Tax State with millions of laws and regulations being created to make sure that you can’t get away with not paying your “fair share” and OOPS to make sure you can’t escape. The mindset of the IRS is not how to protect liberty but how to work around constitutional protections which are the obstacles of tax collection (this is the mentality of Steven Mopsick for anyone interested). That’s how a invasive laws like FATCA and FBAR come to be–law-writers trying to circumvent constitutional rights for the purposes of tax crime detection.
OOPS, it is out in the open. But why shouldn’t it be? The police state is so advanced now that the authorities don’t fear detection for the crimes they are committing. Neither do the banksters who commit fraud right out in the open. The circle is complete. They will soon tighten the noose.
Plaudits for those random thoughts. This is the kind of feet-on-the-ground “anecdote” reporting that opens up the window on the world as it is. Let the US pump out all the phony statistics it wants to. I’ll go for stories I can believe over a pile of empty numbers any day.
A lot of your analysis (random thoughts) makes a lot of sense to me. A good German friend told me of his questioning by an aggressive Immigration agent on a return to trip to America before he got his Green Card. He was being grilled about all his travel, his living arrangements, and leisure activities like sailing vacation he had just had in the Med. In a little bit of a mischievousness German way, he didn’t show due deference and respect to the questioner. LOL.
He was living in America on a Business visa at the time. This was pre FBAR and FATCA crack down.
Similar description as to the back room activities that you provide. In the end, the “Officer on Duty” a large black man, came out of the back room, extended his hand with a BIG smile and said, Well, Mr XXXX, I see you have a very comfortable life. Welcome back to America! ” He was let to proceed under the glaring eyes of the first immigration officer who was detaining him! 🙂 The process did take about an hour of his time.
*Today (07.08.12), Ms Evelyne Widmer-Shlumpf . Switzerland’s President, expressed a lot of reservation about the story printed by Tribune de Geneve and 24heures. She had received no official confirmation either from Swiss diplomatic sources nor from the USA. She also expressed some doubt about the ingenuity of the source of the information. In the current tensed state of relation within the government and the swiss financial industry a cover up would be highly damaging politically…
I suspect the swiss attorney to try and attempt to raise up the ante when attorneys are suing the banks for releasing confidential datas about their employees to the US authorities.. It is trying to win over the public opinion by playing their emotion.
@Bernard, I don’t trust the US government to tell the truth about this incident. So the idea that there is no confirmation from Swiss or American authorities does not in the least undermine the credibility of the story. These kinds of detention stories are abundant when it comes to US airport TSA authorities, and they are very common with border crossings. Even if the US government came out and denied it, their denials would not be credible. And the grandparents are American residents and likely American citizens, and so why would they contact the Swiss authorities. This story doesn’t smack of a lie but of the truth in any case. Perhaps you are aware that Swiss attorneys do tricks like this in the media to win cases, but I lived in Switzerland, and it strikes me as being very un-Swiss to do that. May be I’m wrong.
@Petros: re Swiss Lawyers. I find them to be one of the most comfortable old-boys clubs on the planet. The amount of work required to get a Matura and then complete a law degree at the University is phenominal but once in they are made for life. And since lawyers always get paid first there is little chance to contest or complain. I have been very disappointed with the 2 lawyers I have had to hire while here, they refuse try anything that is not exactly legal and run up massive charges writing long legally precise but mostly useless letters.
I have little doubt but that this story is true.
@Bernard As to Widmer-Schlumpf. It is in her interest to gloss-over, obsfucate the details of, and/or supress the stories behind such negative press. She is one of the people whose lack of guts is causing this mess in Switzerland. Nobody from the Federal Council or any of the ministries ever responded to my interpelation (Open Letter) back at the beginning of this year, even though Art 33 of the Constitution states that every person has the right to petition, and that the authorities must take petitions into consideration. (http://stopunconstitutionaldoubletaxation.wordpress.com/open-letter-published-on-swiss-francophone-tv-site/) 1st Amendment US Const also mentions the right to petition the authorities. In this letter I outlined how acceptance/implementation of US extraterritorial policy was in violation of many constitutional and legal guarantees of Switzerland and the UDHR. I do not understand why nobody responded to such serious and argumented observations.
I hear that Ueli Mauer is candidate for President for 2013. He is UDC/SVP (Swiss People’s Party= conservative/populist, very much for sovereignty). He is already on the Federal Council. But I don’t like the way he handled the deal about the F-5 fighter aircraft replacement (Swedish Grippen was chosen of French Raffal and Eurofighter). There seemed to be a lack of transparency and we were left with the impression that the Army and Mauer (who was secretary of defense at the time) didn’t do their jobs to properly analyse the specifications and pros/cons of each proposal. Interesting note: the main fleet was and is still composed of F/A-18 multirole fighters from the US.
@Petros as to Mopsick and others leaving: I am still flabbergasted by the lack of comprehension for the historical parallels some of us have been drawing here at IBS. I didn’t initiate the yellow star thing, but I had frequently written about a sort of Kristalnacht that might be coming as we hit 2013. Again, tyranny needs to execute a certain number of steps to take hold. Many of these steps have already been taken in and by the US, or are in progress. (Please read Naomi Wolf, she sums these up pretty well in her book “The End of America”, you can find her speeches on YouTube). In this light, I don’t think that the 1930s Germany analogy was out of line in any way. I am not sure what it was they accused us of before leaving, perhaps we just aren’t tolerant enough of bureaucrats, congresscritters, and blindfolded homelanders. I don’t think it was “anti-semitism” we were charged with, or even “zionism”, though one may have gotten the impression that it was one of these. Nay, we were not politically correct, that was the problem! Again, I say political correctness often acts as an insidious form of censure inhibiting free speech, whether intentionally or not. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Translation: If these claims are proven to be true, then the US will have to be made clear, in an suitable manner, that this is unacceptable.
*Jefferson D. Tomas, I’ve been banned from almost a dozen US forums for expressing controversial views which often challenged the concept of “politically correct”. Most of these forums, however, collapsed within one or two years after I got banned and the members drifted to less restrictive forums. The benefit of IBS is that it is currently the easiest and most active means for expats to come together and express political criticism on policies affecting them. The more that IBS censors free thought, the more that expats will lose their voice and ability to assemble and protest.
@Swisspony Let’s see if Widmer-Schlumpf sticks to that as the truth comes out. I like what she said, but actions will speak better than words. If she says what she does, I will start to forgive her for what she did (or didn’t do) before. But the Federal Council still has much work to be done to stave off the threat to Swiss sovereignty.
@ConfederateH Lots of lawyers and judges in the US are the same way. Many are the laziest most herd-minded people I have met. They just want to milk the system for the money they can get without rocking the boat. Others, like Hon. Katherine who dared block parts of the NDAA deserve our support.
@Jefferson, yes I think it is a violation of political correctness. Somehow I have offended Jews by drawing the connection between how Hitler first identified and isolated Jews by making them wear yellow stars and how the United States is trying to get banks to identify and isolate its own expats for special treatment and persecution in the form of extreme, minimum of 50% FBAR fines. One could almost forgive the Swiss banks for treating US persons as persona non grata, if it were not for the fact that it violates Swiss laws in many instances, especially when the person is either a Swiss national or when that person’s only connection to the United States is that he or she is married to a US citizen.
In twisted form of logic, I and Joe Smith have become antisemitic. Well let me say this: I honour the victims when I remember their suffering and I hope that no one ever has to suffer that way again: LEAST of all the Jewish people whose money was returned to them from the Swiss banks and who unaware of the FBAR laws, left it innocently in those banks, and now the US government is trying to get the money that escaped Hitler. I hope that Jewish people will not suffer when they may have some flimsy connection to the USA, like having been born there or having a parent born there, but now they are citizens of other countries happily with their families.
If the Jewish lives who were offered in the Holocaust are indeed precious, then so also is the money of Jewish people which the United States wants to seize. Instead of focusing on the alleged Antisemitism of Peter Dunn and Joe Smith (who is a Jewish and has relatives who died in the Holocaust), let’s see where these people have ever ever been equally outraged by the US aid and encouragement of Al Qaeda which makes up a significant portion of the resistance movements in Egypt, Libya and Syria. It is actually illegal under NDAA to support terror groups, and Obama is doing exactly that. And what about the disrespectful way in which Obama apparently treated Netanyahu when he came to the United States? So Obama gives aid and support to the enemies of Israel and the US and I am antisemitic? This is misplaced outrage.
I am no anti-Semite. I have been taught as a Christian to love Israel. “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” Thus, those who have accused me of Antisemitism are guilty of defamation of character.
@Swisspinoy, that’s a very useful comment which I will make sure that the rest of committee hears. You wrote, “The more that IBS censors free thought, the more that expats will lose their voice and ability to assemble and protest.” Since we haven’t censored free thought, it would appear that we will remain an effective place to assemble and protest.
Freedom is popular. Therefore, I suspect many of those who did the old “take my marbles and go home thing” will continue to lurk around. This site is too important for expats to ignore. It is unvarnished and addresses the hard realities faced by Americans abroad.
@Petros et al, thank you for starting it and thanks for not letting others hijack it.
I appreciate your strong statement about anti-semitism.
For the life I me, I can’t understand what the fuss on IBS is all about. My father -in law was one of the few members of his extended family of brothers. sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc to escape Germany when it was still possible. All who didn’t or couldn’t leave Germany did not survive.
My wife grew up with the knowledge of what happened to her relatives, has read many books and viewed many documentaries and films on the subject. Through her, I obtained an intimate understanding of what the Holocaust was all about.
We both enjoyed Joe Smith’s parody of the often parodied German film from which the video was taken and watched it many times, laughing more with each viewing.
We also did not object to the Star symbol since we often thought about being branded somehow because of our U.S. origins.
What’s wrong with making fun of your enemies? Charlie Chaplin did it in 1940 in his brilliant film, The Great Dictator.
I guess some people think differently.
The story in the Trib really pissed me off. If it is not true then I would like a credible statement from the U.S. gov to that effect debunking it or explaining what happened. This kind of story really puts fear in my heart. I can well imagine the panic of the parents and grandparent when the kids didn’t clear immigration. I have two daughters in the U.S. right now visiting their grandparents. One is over 18 and can do as she pleases but the other is a minor. Do I keep her home next year and make the grandparents fly to Paris? I paid my taxes, I filed my FBAR’s but I still live in a state of uncertainty that there is some U.S. law/rule I didn’t know about that is going to get me in trouble and get my name on a list. That is what is really freaking me out right now. And the idea that my kids could get stopped at the border and held for 6 hours? That just sends me into a state of pure panic….
“Inside Paradeplatz”, an online Swiss bank-oriented newspaper, carried a story yesterday on the impending release of a Credit Suisse banker, Christos Bagios, after an 18 month forced detention in the US. Bagios apparently had been involved with untaxed money from US customers while at UBS prior to 2005 and was known to the US authorities because of his prior work. He was nabbed at a New York hotel in January 2011 and has been held since then without charges. This article states that he was effectively held as a hostage by the US to extort an agreement and information from his current employer, CS. CS subsequently handed over emails and other internal correspondence with offshore US customers to the US authorities, including 10,000 CS employee and former employee names. The official request to the Swiss government for information on 100 CS accounts reportedly resulted from information provided by this CS banker.
– While recognizing this article may be somewhat dramatic, it illustrates another of the Gestapo methods used by the US government – indefinite detention without charges.
Here’s the article (in German):
This story should chill ANY parent, not only those with some supposed US relationship. How this US action can be justified is beyond me.
@ Victoria, your fears, I think, are just the beginning of a growing PR problem for the United States–but not only so, Americans themselves are getting extremely tired of the abuses of federal officials, namely border guards and the TSA, strip search, junk groping, and cancer inducing xray machines that take vivid pictures of privates. That’s why this story is absolutely believable. But this is the problem: my mother-in-law has a friend who was visiting the US and at the border they asked where she was staying: she answered with her daughter in Buffalo–that was a mistake. They began to hassle her about her daughter’s status. Is she an American? No, she’s Canadian. Does she have a visa to stay in the US? What visa does she have? I guess a work visa of some sort. Well next time, you have to have a copy of the visa when you try to cross the border!
Look, in the future you are going to have to bring copies of your FBARs and your tax returns to prove that you’ve filed your taxes, and your children, if they travel alone are going to have to answer the question of whether their parents are filing, and will be hassled if they can’t also prove it.
Of course, all this hassle is unreasonable. Why should Canadian who normally has the right to visit the US have to provide proof that her daughter has the right to work in the country? And why should children be forced to answer questions about their parents? Whoait’sSteve nonchalance is proof that the average American doesn’t see why this is even a problem, because the people in question are not even Americans. So who gives a damn about them any way? Well, I think he should give a damn whether anyone ever wants to visit the United States or do business with the country. This is the end of mondialisation. It is a 180 degree reverse trend of the post WWII era where the United States began to forge allies and build bridges throughout the world. Now the US is burning its bridges, to try to collect a little extra cash from its Diaspora.
Below is a translated article from tomorrow’s NZZ on US customs’ interrogation of the Swiss asset manager’s children.
“Escalation of the tax conflict
Two children of a Swiss banker were interrogated for hours by US customs officials. A US legal expert explains why this could mean a new dimension of the tax dispute.
According to a report in the newspaper “Tribune de Genève”, two children were questioned for six hours by US customs official upon entry into the United States – unknown are age, sex and the airport. In particular, the two were intensely questioned about their father, a Swiss asset
manager. Was this questioning, assuming it did indeed occur as described, part of standard procedures commonly used by the US immigration? Or does this mean that the USA is now using the recently supplied employee information from Swiss banks?
Attorney George Clarke is a partner at Miller Chevalier, one of the major US law firms based
in Washington. The experienced US tax expert stressed that important details are missing, such
as did the questioning really last a full six hours, or were there delays and waiting. It is quite possible that it was merely an “intensive questioning” by the
U.S. Immigration. If the questioning really lasted such a long time and was directed at their father’s activities, this would speak clearly “for a new
escalation in the tax dispute.”
Lists of questions to Customs by the DOJ
For some time it has been standard procedure of U.S. authorities to hunt down not only tax evaders but also the “enablers”, in this case, the Swiss
bankers and consultants to US customers. The
effect was much greater: “turning” a consultant
would allow them to reach more US citizens than by pursuing individual customers. Since to-date the majority of those impacted has turned themselves
in and were guaranteed criminal immunity by the IRS tax authorities, the Justice Department (DOJ) is now concentrating increasingly on consultants,
according to Clarke.
In his law practice – Clarke takes, inter alia, tax evaders, but also Guantanamo detainees – he had often seen that government agencies like the FBI, the IRS or the Justice Department would give lists of questions to customs authorities with instructions to ask questions to some travelers. The source of the questions will often not be mentioned in the questioning, to a certain extent such interrogations are just normal questioning by customs. A special
protection to children is not given here. Even if the U.S. may have signed relevant treaties, they would not often be followed.
Children’s names picked out deliberately
Within banking circles the assumption circulated that the two children had the name of a famous banking family and were then singled out. Clarke considers this unlikely. The US government operates since “9/11” with a “scary amount of
information.” Much of this information could not be used legally because of the way it was procured, but is used for such purposes. The names of the children would likely come out of the huge mountain of information which the US has available today on the subject, deliberately picked out, said
Clarke. He advises travelers to keep silent in such cases and request a lawyer.”
@Innocente Thanks for finding that article and the translation. When dealing with cops, the mantra always is “I have no comment”. “I do not consent to any searches”. “I want to speak with my lawyer”. “I will now remain silent”.
@Jefferson, Good advice. I would add one more for those who are not U.S. citizens: “I want to talk to an officer from my consulate.” And then shut up. Under international law local law enforcement MUST allow you to contact them. The U.S. has been in trouble for violating this (it is an on-going issue with Mexico – and I believe the U.S. was brought before an international court and lost after foreign nationals were arrested, refused permission to contact their embassy and later tried and convicted in the U.S. Nothing happened but it was a moral victory for Mexico.)
@Victoria You are absolutely right.
Thus the complete Mantra should be:
“I have no comment”.
“I do not consent to any
“I want to speak with my lawyer”.
“In accordance with the Vienna Convention, I demand to speak to a (Swiss, French, etc.) consular officer”.
“I will now remain
Useful to note that even if you are American and detained in the US, you may still be able to contact a consulate if you have some other nationality as well. However, many law enforcement agencies do not know about, or do not care about the VCCR.
This State Department Manual is intended to educate law enforcement agencies about proper conduct in light of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations:
Although page 15 of the PDF (Page 5) suggests that Dual Nationals do not have consular access, see also page 24 of the PDF (Page 14):
“consular notiﬁcation is not required if the detainee has U.S. citizenship, regardless of whether he or she has another country’s citizenship or nationality as well. This is true even if the detainee’s other country of citizenship is a mandatory notiﬁcation (“list”) country. As a matter of discretion, however, the Department of State suggests that, when possible, you permit a visit from the consular ofﬁcers of the detainee’s other country of nationality, as long as the detainee requests a visit and wishes to be visited by those consular ofﬁcers. “
The Vienna Convention is also an issue for ACA, as US Citizens abroad might receive poor treatment abroad if the US doesn’t respect it. See page 4-5 of this newsletter: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=vienna%20convention%20on%20consular%20relations&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Famericansabroad.org%2Fdownload_file%2Fview%2F25%2F133%2F&ei=9W0jUIPyBo_ItAaExIC4CA&usg=AFQjCNFVLNiyrK8S1lq6F4U9GWd-fcM6Hg&cad=rja