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Schwarzenbach Swiss justice: Art collector must pay CHF11.4 million arrears on VAT

Schwarzenbach

Swiss billionnaire and art collector Urs Schwarzenbach owns the most luxurious hotel in Zurich.

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s highest judicial authority has dismissed an appeal by the financier and art collector Urs Schwarzenbach who had been found guilty of tax evasion by lower courts.

The Wednesday ruling by the Supreme Court obliges the 69-year-old billionaire - owner of The Dolder Grand Hotelexternal link in Zurich - to pay CHF11.4 million ($11.5 million) in value added tax (VAT) arrears.

Schwarzenbach's appeal referred to two separate requests for payment of arrears issued in 2014 and 2015 by the Directorate General of Customsexternal link, the Swiss News Agency reported.

The requests concerned the import of several works of art, which were transported to Switzerland on his private jet to Zurich or Samedan airport, near the Alpine resort town of St Moritz, without being declared.

The Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Federal Administrative Court, which had decided that the conditions for the billionaire’s request for review had not been met.

Last May, Urs Schwarzenbach - who in public statements has repeatedly described himself as a "poor pension beneficiary" - was found guilty of smuggling works of art by the District Court of Bülach in Zurich.

The owner of the most luxurious hotel in Zurich was thus fined CHF4 million ($4 million) for illegally importing works of art and evading VAT. However, that ruling is not yet final.

 On 18 September, the Federal Administrative Court also ruled that the confiscation of works of art at the Dolder Grand Hotel and other properties in March 2017 was legal.

The seizure of about 30 works of art was ordered by the Federal Customs Administrationexternal link because Schwarzenbach had failed to meet its obligations to pay the outstanding taxes.



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