"Forbes" list shows billionaires abound in Switzerland

Making money is no problem for Switzerland's billionaires Keystone

When it comes to making money the Swiss are among the world's best. A new report by the United States magazine "Forbes", Switzerland boasts no fewer than 16 billionaires.

This content was published on June 22, 2001 minutes

Three Swiss families make it into Forbes listing of the world's 100 richest people. Highest in the rankings is the family of Ernesto Bertarelli, the founder of the Ares Serono biotech firm. Bertarelli's fortune - estimated at $10.5 billion - puts him at number 27 overall.

Further down the list comes Pierre Landolt, a major shareholder in the Swiss pharmaceuticals firm, Novartis. Another top money-earner last year was Walter Hefner of the Amag car import group. Hefner ranked 64th among the world's richest.

Forbes' complete list of 538 billionaires also includes such well-known names in Switzerland as Nicolas Hayek, the head of the Swatch group, the banker, Martin Ebner, and the Schmidheiny brothers, Stephan and Thomas.

The right-wing politician and leading businessman, Christoph Blocher, also makes it on to the list. Blocher, whose income mainly derives from the chemicals industry, has pumped large amounts of money into a campaign to keep Switzerland out of the United Nations and to preserve its long-held neutrality.

Among the world's richest are a number of foreigners resident in Switzerland, not least the US commodity trader, Marc Rich. Rich, who fled the US in 1983 after being indicted on tax evasion charges and settled in Switzerland, received a controversial pardon from Bill Clinton in the final days of his presidency.

swissinfo with agencies

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