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Swiss abroad feel "abandoned" by politicians

The Swiss expatriate community in the United States says it is "shocked" by the government's decision not to assist Swiss abroad with bank accounts in their homeland.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), which represents the nearly 700,000 Swiss – nearly ten per cent of the overall Swiss population – who live abroad, said on Monday it regretted this attitude, which represented a "decrease in solidarity" with those Swiss living in the United States.

Last week the government responded to a parliamentary question on the issue, saying in effect it would not come to the aid of Swiss in the US who had been collared by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The OSA said some expats had had their accounts closed suddenly "and without any reason" – also accounts with UBS, "which had benefited from Swiss state aid".

The government however said these cases should be subject to due US legal process.

"The government is hiding behind the fact that it has no legal power to interfere with a private company, "said Jacques-Simon Eggly, OSA president.

"From a political and human point of view however one would have expected a greater commitment to those compatriots living abroad. The cabinet should have exerted psychological pressure on the banks."

He added: "The Swiss abroad have every reason to feel on the one hand betrayed by Swiss banks and on the other abandoned by Swiss politicians."

Two out of three expats are based in a European Union country, mostly in neighbouring France and Germany. Some 74,000 Swiss lived in the United States in 2008 – making them the third-largest group of Swiss expats.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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