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.
Further to the last paragraph in the NZZ story, a year ago a friend of mine was travelling from Europe to the US via Iceland. When she arrived in Iceland, she was detained at the request of US Homeland Security and held in a secure room with five other people on her connecting flight to the US. When she arrived at the US airport, she was briefly questioned by US customs with the following questions: 1) Do you travel a lot? (Yes) 2) What do you do for a living? (She gave her occupation) 3) Do you work for this specific company? (No, but I work for a similar company – the exactness of this question surprised her) 4) Are you a dual-citizen? (No)
She believes that the US customs agent read these questions from a screen and then input her answers into a data base. She thought that the last question may have been the most important because it indicated whether US customs was seeing all over her travels. Because of the nature of her work, she travels to a lot including to less desirable countries in Eastern Europe and Africa and also occasionally to Muslim countries. She had renewed her passport prior to this trip and believed that the passport stamps and visas in her old US passport may have caused US customs to give her a less desirable security rating. She lives in Europe and said that she had made around 75 trips to the US over the past 10 years and this was the first time she had been questioned on anything.
Ugh. A part of me wishes that I had a French or German passport so that I could live my life without worrying that I could be extradited to the US at a whim. These are the only major European countries that protect their own citizens from extradition to the US. UK passport would be the worst to have in this regard in my opinion. Only downside of course would be stuck to living in either country forever and never visiting another. Hmm maybe dual French-German citizenship then: Work in Germany and holiday in France 🙂
@Innocente, great find that paradeplatz article, I am adding that site to my “finance” bookmarks.
“While recognizing this article may be somewhat dramatic, it illustrates
another of the Gestapo methods used by the US government – indefinite
detention without charges.”
Interesting how they used his illegal detention and just the threat of bringing charges to extort the information from CS. I can imagine them calling in the heavy artillery, some Steve Mopsick like examiner to turn he screws. Then, after a long bout of solitary confinement Mopsick arrives at the cell door with a glass of water and an offer of pro-bono representation. Mr. Bagios would certainly be very grateful.
The primary lesson for IBS readers is that once you expatriate normal constitutional protections no longer apply to you. Renounced US persons are of less value than one of their slaves. I can certainly understand why Petros will never go near that form-nation-prison again. The US government routinely behaves in a rogue and unlawful manner. It has lost all trace of legitimacy.
I have the right to talk to an officer of my consulate. Nothing happened but it was a moral victory?
Thanks Victoria. Now I know what to say if my plane is forced down while on the way to the Cayman Islands. “I want to speak to an officer of my consulate.” That’s a superb idea. I’ll just keep saying that instead of explaining about my 5’x5’x5′ safety deposit box full of gold bullion.
ConfederateH, At Isaac Brock our official policy is that “Gestapo” may not be used as the name for United States federal law enforcement officers. Gestapo is short for Geheime Staatspolizie (Secret State Police). This is not a secret police at all so I’ve officially declared the correct substitute to use instead of Gestapo is:
Out in the Open Police State (=OOPS).
*An interesting hypothetical. What if the two children were arriving at Pearson. What do you think CBSA would do. On the one hand there is a lot of cooperation between CBSA and the US and the other I don’t many at this site would take kindly to the CBSA doing the same thing as the US did(and I suspect certain political “staffers” in Ottawa are aware of this).
I think the police state is not quite “out in the open”, only partly, or more people would be aware of it by now. Therefore should it not be POOPS?
POOPS? That’s brilliant and you’re right, it is only “Partially Out in the Open Police State”. POOPS it is.
@ Tim, I met a USA young woman, blonde and petite, about 19 years old. She was detained for couple hours at the Geneva Airport because Air France had lost her baggage in Paris–mine too. She was in tears because she was delayed from going to her meeting party. She had no local phone, no local currency and no way to talk to them. I think I helped her by calling her party for her or something–and acting as an interpreter for the things that the baggage handlers were saying. Just having a kind anglophone person be there for her while everyone is talking in French I think helped her to calm down.
That said, having the authorities in a strange country begin to interrogate you about your parents would be traumatic. I would like to hear it if other countries do this often. I think it would ruin their reputation as a tourist destination, at very least.
Petros, I absolutely agree. I used to travel a lot for business in Asia, North America and Europe and my passport is filled with all kinds of interesting entry/exit stamps and visas. In Europe the Brits are quite strict – never unpleasant but suspicious. When you take the Eurostar from Paris you go through immigration at the Gare du Nord and not when you arrive in London. Oddly enough, the two worst experiences I’ve had were in Canada (and boy was I not expecting that). First time was flying through Vancouver to Seattle – they simply would not let me in until I showed them my French residency permit. The second was flying in to Montreal for the first time a few years back for a business meeting. I was working for a software company at the time and I was dressed pretty cool/casual. The immigration official simply did not believe that I was an executive flying in for meetings (my annual North American IT manager meeting). and when I couldn’t name the hotel where I was to stay he got rather unpleasant. It was also my first experience with Canadian French and I had trouble understanding him. Luckily at the time back in Paris I had an assistant who was the most efficient woman I have ever had the pleasure to work with and she had prepared a small binder for me with all the places I was staying, my agenda, meeting events, who I was having dinner with on the like. So I hauled it out, gave it to him and said, “Here’s all the info.” It was good after that but it was a hassle and it would have been a real mess if I hadn’t been able to attend the meeting since I had over 40 people flying in on company expense from various parts of North America and a few from Europe.
Now that’s the experience of a seasoned woman traveler of a certain age. I doubt I would have handled the situation nearly as well in my teens. And answering questions about my parents for 6 hours? I probably would have freaked.
p.s. On round four of chemo and not feeling my best. Will hopefully be feeling more lively and up to writing more early next week.
Dom Pomodoro – Brazil flat-out refuses to extradite natural-born citizens. Natualized people can only be extradited, but only for drug-related offenses, or if the crimes pre-dated naturalization. I read somewhere too that parents of Brazilian kids cannot be extradited due to terms in the Brazilian Constitution.
I’m slightly deviating from extradition here, but still along the lines of getting someone out of the country:
This kind of stuff is really sort of taboo here as evidenced by the Sean Goldman case. Brazil wouldn’t let the kid go to America to be with his dad. Even the news coverage (to this day) in America is sympathetic to the US Dad, and the media here seems to be more sympathetic to the grandmother. I’ve always had the feeling that Brazilians think that Brazilians belong here and not someplace else (excluding stints abroad to make money).
***// Back to extradition:
When I was confirming this information, the searches turned up some interesting results:
US Rep Tim Ryan is trying to get Brazil to comply with the extradition treaty and extradite a Brazilian citizen to the US that was accused of murder.
I bet the Brazilians think he’s condescending “14 million in aid” – geez louise, 14 million is nothing nowadays. Where does he think we are? In Africa? In the middle of Chad? 14 million won’t even pay for the gardeners in Brasilia!
At least my opinion is that no system is perfect. The system here tends to protect Brazilians a little too much, but this is a very complicated issue. For me, I prefer just to keep my nose clean, and hope and pray that the US doesn’t make it illegal to live in any foreign countries anytime soon.
*Has anyone seen this latest article from Reuters. Something is going on. It looks like the Swiss Banks thought that signing up to FATCA would solve their other problems when in fact it looks like it is going to do none of that.
Had not. You put November in a sentence, and you know politics is at play.. humm
*Tim – agree with you, it seems the Swiss are beginning to realize their supposed dealings & tradeoffs with the U.S. are not being acknowledged or respected .. they may start getting second thoughts now .. plus you have the Germans now demanding reciprocity, else they will not do it .. plus you have money fleeing Florida banks now from the domestic requirement on reciprocity, which is making the U.S. have second thoughts also.
It is becoming difficult to anticipate where this will all end. The phrase has been used that the “FATCA” train has left the station, effectively dampening hopes for repeal.
Even so, I will continue to hold onto hope that sanity will prevail when those who have been asleep at the wheel and have drafted policy reflective of living lives as “frogs in a well” awaken and get a glimpse of what the backlash damage could be for “homelanders”. As said by many here, when those at “home” begin to see how they personally may become negatively affected by the actual enactment of this policy, I may have a basis for holding onto the hope that policy will be changed.
However, I am reminded that government changes slowly. On the basis of the wisdom penned by various contributors, I held back from jumping fully into the OVDI. Looking back now, I would rather have made the decision to renounce than to have filed some errant forms. I will wait until September comes, before making any further decisions. Most likely, we will not have a clear picture on the direction of FATCA for some time yet.
*All, if you have a minute, take a glance at the comments in this huffingtonpost article Tim mentioned:
NPR’s, “All Things Considered”, Finally Does a Story on Offshore Tax Evasion Crack Down
It now has 226 comments and one person, a moderator (I think) is asking what he/she can do to help Americans abroad:
Swiss radio, DRS, reported yesterday that the Treuhandverband (fiduciary association) and Anwaltsverband (attorneys association) are cautioning some of their members on trips to the US. Members of the Treuhand/ Fiduciare association would include accountants, auditors, tax advisors and also property and asset managers. The US authorities are apparently focusing on the asset managers segment. Fiduciaries have confidentiality requirements under Swiss law.
Newspaper article (German):
Radio broadcast (German):
Pingback: The Isaac Brock Society - Interviews on Swiss TV: Bank employees upset about their names being disclosed to the US.