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US tried to search Swatch factories for terror clues

Nick Hayek said Swatch stood its ground Keystone

The United States pressured the watchmaking Swatch Group to open its factories in Switzerland to anti-terrorism experts, the chief executive has revealed in a newspaper interview.

“They no doubt wanted to check if it was possible to conceal explosives, poison or whatever else in the watch movements,” Nick Hayek told the Schweiz am Sonntag paper.

“They spoke about the threat of terrorism.”

Hayek said when he refused point-blank the request, the US representatives warned that the Biel-based company “could face import problems” as a result.

Swatch responded by saying the US would have to “explain that to the tens of thousands of employees in the US”.

No export issues transpired, according to the CEO.

In the same interview, Hayek said Swiss big banks had been “prematurely obedient” in the fallout from the tax evasion row with the US, although he noted they had done “appalling things”.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR