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Switzerland

Yearbook 2013

Switzerland At the beginning of the year, Switzerland's oldest bank, Wegelin, pleaded guilty to helping over 100 US citizens with tax fraud worth billions of dollars, before a US court. The bank, founded in 1741, agreed to pay damages to US authorities and announced its intention to close.

2013 Switzerland

According to Countryaah, Switzerland continued to be pressured by the US and the EU to ease its banking secrecy and make tax evasion more difficult. But in June, the National Council rejected a deal that would have given tax authorities in the United States access to customer account information. The US threatened to shut out Swiss banks from the dollar market if nothing was done.

High director salaries and increasing gaps were a hot topic of debate during the year. Many Swiss people were upset over the fact that some managers earned more than 200 times more than their employees, even in companies where layoffs occurred. That the 2012 losses at bank giant UBS exactly matched what the company paid out in bonuses also caught the eye. In a referendum in March, voters with a large majority agreed to ban high severance pay and allow shareholders to vote on executive salaries and bonuses, in a regulatory framework that was described as among the most stringent in the world in the area. But in November, a proposal was voted down that managers could not earn more than a maximum of twelve times the lowest paid in a company.

In June, a large majority agreed to maintain tightening of the asylum legislation introduced in 2012. meant that asylum could not be sought at Swiss embassies. UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and human rights organizations targeted massive criticism of decisions in several municipalities to exclude asylum seekers from public places, such as swimming pools and libraries.

After a lengthy process, both parliament's chambers agreed to buy 22 JAS Gripen planes from Sweden. Voters voted in September - by almost three-quarters of the majority - to retain military service. In the Italian-speaking canton Ticino, a ban on mockery in public places was adopted. Similar laws exist in France and Belgium, but Ticino became the first part of Switzerland to introduce such a decision.

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