Swiss Bank Accounts: Why Mitt Romney (or an Average Joe) Might Want One

Mitt RomneyThink of Swiss bank accounts, and what likely comes to mind are the shady dealings of international criminals, secret agents and tax dodgers. But is that image more fiction than fact?

On Monday, Mitt Romney's Swiss bank account came back into the limelight when Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.) publicly noted that no presidential hopeful has ever had a portfolio like Romney's, and that Romney is most likely the first to possess a bank account in the famously secretive financial haven.

So are we to infer that Candidate Bland might have a secret lair somewhere? (Whether you picture it equipped with Q-invented good-guy gadgets and a dry martini, or host to a super-villain's requisite Persian cat and horde of henchmen is, of course, up to you.)

Not exactly. In fact, that Swiss account only means he's part of a trend: Their use is on the uptick for Americans as they try to protect their assets amidst the shaky economy.

'Plenty of Good Banks in the United States'

That's not to say holding a foreign account is politically wise: It's essentially a triple blemish for a candidate. First, a Swiss account appears to be a clear sign of distrust in the American banking system and value of the dollar; second, it leads to speculation about what assets he might be hiding. (Not to mention the fact that Romney has been accused of skimping on his taxes by holding funds overseas -- already a touchy subject for the wealthy ex-governor, who has only disclosed his last two tax returns.) And third, to Middle America, it could make him appear even more out of touch.

The account has become an easy target for Democrats, with Durbin pointing out billionaire Warren Buffet's expressed reason for never opening a Swiss bank account: "There are plenty of good banks in the United States."

"So I started asking people why [would] you have a Swiss bank account?" Durbin said. "There are two reasonable explanations. Number one, you believe the Swiss franc is a stronger currency than the United States' dollar, and that apparently is the decision the Romney family made during the Bush presidency. And secondly, you want to conceal something, you want to hide something."

But Romney is not alone in moving assets to Switzerland, and like many other holders of those accounts, there's no inherent reason to assume he's involved in anything questionable.

Swiss BankThe Myth of the Swiss Bank Account

Swiss bank accounts aren't just for criminals trying to hide their monetary tracks. They're also popular among people in countries with unstable banks, monetary policies or governments, because they provide added privacy and security for assets.

Douglass S. Lodmell, partner and co-founder of Lodmell & Lodmell in Phoenix, is an expert in asset protection, and helps clients procure Swiss bank accounts. He dismisses the common conception of Swiss bank accounts as part of some hush-hush omerta system.

"There is the James Bond vision of Swiss bank accounts," Lodmell said. "People think there are numbered secret bank accounts, that when you open the account you get only a number."

That cinematic conception of espionage and illicit financial dealings is false, according to Lodmell.

"Those don't exist," he said. "A lot of that is the perception is that if you bank in Switzerland, you are trying to go under the radar or off the grid, that it means you're hiding something."

The IRS' Long Battle with Switzerland

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) is one of the most outspoken critics of Romney's Swiss bank account, and is of the mind that having such an account is cause for raised eyebrows.

"I saw in the paper this morning that the spokesperson for the Romney campaign said that it was just an ordinary bank account in Switzerland," Levin said in January. "We went after UBS in my subcommittee, we have seen abuses by American wealthy folks trying to hide from Uncle Sam, putting their money in Swiss bank accounts and bank accounts in other tax havens. ... There is no such thing as an ordinary Swiss bank account."

But not so fast: In fact, there is transparency, Lodmell said. When opening a Swiss bank account, Americans have to file an FBAR form with the IRS that discloses the assets. Back when the "international man of mystery" concept of the Swiss bank account holder was born, that wasn't the case. These days, it's not such a good tax dodging device.

"There's no reason to believe that he pays even one cent less in tax," he said.

Why Would You Want a Swiss Bank Account?

The stability of U.S. financial system has certainly come under question in the years since the fall of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns.

"There's a valid point that the U.S. banking infrastructure is not as reliable," Lodmell said.

And the money you put in Swiss bank account -- except for those at UBS or Credit Swiss -- is in a privately held bank where the account holders' assets are completely segregated, and insulated from the troubles than might effect the American system.

Those banks also have a Tier 1 capital ratio -- and the proportion of capital on reserve is five times as high as it must be for U.S. banks. And as you might recall from the series of stress tests banks have had to undergo in recent years, those reserves are a core measure of a bank's financial strength from a regulator's perspective.

"Any sophisticated person interested in an asset protection plan should consider Swiss banking," Lodmell said. "The point is to remove the money from the U.S. system with an international asset protection trust ... whether you're a business owner, [an] employer in California where laws are particularly harsh, or a doctor who could be sued for malpractice."

"A lot of people use the nest egg approach," Lodmell said. "If [Romney] has a portion of his money over there, that's the most practical thing in the world. It's not a commentary on the U.S. system, so it's just smart business. I would not accuse him of being a traitor. He's a shrewd business man... it doesn't mean you don't believe in the U.S dollar or America."

Gallery on Mitt Romney


Growing Popularity

As the economy stays in the tank and uncertainty over the U.S. economy grows, Swiss bank accounts become appealing.

"More people do want Swiss bank accounts," Lodmell said. "There's huge confusion about whether we're going to go into hyper inflation, deflation. The demand is big. I think it's going to get bigger if the market takes a nose dive -- there are going to be people questioning where they hold their money, and the banking institutional risk is going to be front and center. We're in the domino effect in what's going on in Europe. Our banking system is not indomitable."

All that worry has resulted in a lot more money being moved Geneva-ward. In fact, since 2008 when the recession kicked into high gear, Lodmell & Lodmell has seen Swiss bank accounts being opened five times more rapidly than before.

That's a remarkable number considering the fact that it has become much harder to open a private Swiss bank account since the U.S. government's push against UBS two years ago to try to nab tax evaders.

With the outlook for various world currencies as uncertain as it is, the stability of the Swiss franc is another reason people are gravitating toward Swiss banks. And Swiss bank account assets can be held in 22 different currencies, giving depositors a way to participate in the foreign exchange game, for example, holding some assets held in yen and the rest in dollars.

Switzerland doesn't have major government debt. It's a small country, with a government that doesn't spend more than it has and takes a conservative approach to its overall finances. Its gold reserves help to stabilize the economy and have historically helped to protect the Swiss franc against inflation.

And there's no reason to think that Romney's Swiss account is anything more than that: a bit of extra asset protection in an uncertain financial world.

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Jack Loach

Sods ----- Law.
Nov.---- 2014.

For almost two decades we have strived to get justice for the injustice we have suffered at the hands of a world renowned bank--- PICTET & CIE. BANK.

Two yorkshiremen both running their own small family businesses trying to resolve the problem by taking all the correct legal procedures to recover their monies.

The matter was raised in Parliament – twice-- the FSA investigated the matter concluding that PICTET had rogues operating in their London Bank --- but the rogues had left ---saying no one left to prosecute.??? ----- so there.

We then approached the Financial Ombudsman Service. (FOS) --- our case was dealt with by seven different people ---- then our numerous E-Mails were ignored --- nobody would speak to us -------so there.

We then asked the SFO ( Serious Fraud Office.) to investigate our case ---- the criteria of our case ticked all their boxes. --- we were instructed not to send them
any documents/evidence.------ in fact they wrote to us advising us to go to the Citizen's Advice Bureau.(CAB.)
Richard Alderman the SFO boss ---- who responded to our letter was the same man who would not investigate the “ Madoff” scandal or the “Libor” fiasco.
The MP's committee ---- said he was sloppy--- and the SFO was run like “ Fred Karno's Circus” ----- it was an office of fraud.----- so there.

Our M.P. approached our local Chief Constable to investigate----- he was called---- Sir Norman Bettison--- Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police ---- a force that made “ Dad's Army” look like the S.A.S. They were inept – corrupt ---malicious --- from top to bottom. We were criminally dealt with by the Forces Solicitor---- the Head of the Economic Crime Unit ----and the Chief Constable ----- so there.

We were then advised to pass our complaint against West Yorkshire Police to the I.P.C.C. – which we did --- they advised us to make our complaint to ---- the West Yorkshire Police --- we did with reluctance --- all we got was abuse and obfuscation. ----- so there.

Sir Norman Bettison ---- The Forces solicitor--- and the Head of the Economic Crime ---- have all been removed from their posts and facing criminal allegations.
------ so there.

We even sought justice through the Courts --- culminating in a visit to the Court of Appeal-London.--- On leaving the Courts of Appeal that day our barrister a “rising star” informed us --- that if that was British Justice then you can keep it. He quit the law and moved to Canada ----- so there.

A few years later we learned that one of the judges ( Lord Justice.) in our case at the Court of Appeal was related to a senior executive of the Pictet Bank -----so there.

The Ministry of Justice passed our case to Lord Myners to investigate --- we would rather have had Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck do it. --- to this day we don't know
---whether he did anything or not ---- probably not --- seeing that his wife was on the Pictet Prix Board.

Pictet & Cie .Bank --- voted private bank of the year 2013.
Ivan Pictet ---- Voted banker of the year 2012. ---- the senior partner --- lied on numerous occasions and had documents destroyed --- also said genuine documents were forgeries. ----- so there.

Ivan Pictet in Oct. 2013 ---- Given the Legion of Honour --- but saying that ---- honours were given to Hitler --- Eichmann --- Mussolini ---Franco --- he's in fitting company. ----so there.

MONTY RAPHAEL.Q.C. -- Peters & Peters.London. They were the banks lawyers.
Monty Raphael.Q.C. along with Ivan Pictet withheld crucial documents requested by the High Court ---- the FSA ---- and the police Fraud Squad. ----so there.

Monty Raphael.Q.C. became an Honorary Queens Counsellor in March. 2012.
Monty Raphael.Q.C. became a Master of the Bench in Nov.2012.
An expert in Fraud ---the Doyen of Fraud Lawyers. ----- so there.

This says a lot about Banks --- the consensus of opinion is that they are highly paid “crooks” ---- no wonder they voted Ivan Pictet banker of the year.

It appears that crimes in the “establishment.” are honoured by their peers.
“HONOURS AMONG THIEVES.”


Full Story.---- “google ”

Insert.

Pictet & Cie. Bank.
or
Ivan Pictet/ Monty Raphael Q.C.

November 13 2014 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mmtwh06410

read

June 04 2012 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

AOL/HuffPuff Lib Propagandists: Stop attacking Mitt Romney! He is a wonderful successful American! No, we do not disapprove of him because he is successful! We admire his success. He will begin healing the wounds inflicted by Obama.

Obama is a disaster! Whipping up racial divides. Whipping up envy and hatred of "rich" Americans. Demonizing. Diverting. Lying, Lying, Lying, and Lying.

President Mitt Romney ...

Sounds great! What a relief!

April 19 2012 at 1:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Beelzebufo

Disgusting how liberals are so obsessed with other people's money.

April 13 2012 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beelzebufo

Why would Romney want one? None of our ******* business.

April 13 2012 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
icomeinpiese

Evidently, some people think that if it's not illegal, its ok for a presidential candidate to do something that is not typically mainstream usa. If Romney was to wear an NRA or KKK. T-shirt, it may not be illegal but it shows who is out of touch with mainstream America.

He's asking America to support him while he's not supporting America. What a Phoney Romney is? He's a Phromney!

April 12 2012 at 4:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to icomeinpiese's comment
Finchie

You might want to ask who else in government also have money off-shore. The dollar is almost unsalvagable. I think you'd be surprised. Even if it's off-shore they're still responsible for taxes in that country. A lot of these countries have what is called an "intangible tax". The US had these kind of taxes but stopped collecting them years ago. If Obama is worth what they say, I'd say he probably has money off-shore.

April 12 2012 at 4:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
davefromfwb1

It's all about trying to avoid taxes and hide your total gross wealth. That other guy that rain against bush back in 2000.....John Kerry was avoiding having to pay for his boat in Mass. when he used to keep it docked in another state that had lower taxes. That's just one easy example I could remember off the top of my head. Politicans do this sort of thing all the time and to them its a game to see how much they can screw the public out of paying for what they perceive as welfare taxes to the rest of us "poor" and "stupid" people.

April 12 2012 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to davefromfwb1's comment
ha6ai

Well, at least Democrats do.

April 19 2012 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan

Move your money to Canada. The Canadian dollar is almost at par with the U S dollar. If Obama is re-elected the US dollar will collapse. The real reason gasoline is becoming so expensive is because the value of the U S dollar is becoming lower. Crude oil is still valued using the U S dollar. As the value of the dollar has gone down the cost of crude has gone up. The Dems can spin it any way they want, but that's a fact Jack.

April 12 2012 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
R

There is nothing illegal with lawfully protecting your own money. Obama can't take it from us this way. You might want to look into Obama's buddy, Warren Buffet. See where he hides all of his money, too. This is the most polarizing Prez. in history....rich vs poor, white vs black, illegal immigrant vs legal. Pathetic...

April 12 2012 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Linda

I know why I wouldnt mind having a Swiss bank account. i would be able to hide my assets from Obama and the Democrats so they wouldnt be able to steal it. We all know that Obama wants to "redistribute" the wealth. Obamacare is going to help him do that. So I'd like to hide as much as I can so he cant steal it.

April 12 2012 at 2:22 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply