Swiss banks not funnels for funding terrorist regimes
Cathryn Prince's allegation in her July 8 opinion piece "Swiss banks thumb nose at rights law" that Switzerland has ignored international law by allowing the financing of pariah states accused of supporting terrorism is completely unfounded. On the contrary, Switzerland has taken strong definitive action to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Since the early 1990s, well before becoming a UN member, Switzerland has implemented all UN sanctions against nations and individuals who violate international law, including Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. Swiss federal law makes violating these sanctions an offense punishable by a prison term and/or a fine of up to 1 million Swiss francs.
When such laws and other banking obligations are violated, the Swiss response has been strong and swift, as seen in the UBS case involving currency transactions into some countries under US sanctions. The Swiss supervisory banking authority (FBC) took the unprecedented step of publicly reprimanding UBS and barred it from resuming banknote trading with foreign professional bank traders.
The Federal Reserve, in its testimony before the US Senate Banking Committee, praised the FBC for its "extraordinary assistance" on this specific case and for its "exceptional cooperation" on the fight against terrorism.
This praise is only the latest example of how top US officials have held up Switzerland as an international model in the global fight against terrorism. In fact, Switzerland, after the US, leads the world's nations in the amount of suspected terrorist funds it has identified and frozen.
Attorney General John Ashcroft's statement speaks for itself: "The world should take note of the responsible way in which the Swiss have acted and that the myth of banking secrecy has finally been disproved. America is a safer country because Switzerland cooperates closely with it."
Ambassador of Switzerland to the US
In your July 9 article "Another CEO in handcuffs" about the arrest of Kenneth Lay, I was interested to read, "Unlike some other white-collar cases, there is not likely to be a long paper trail."
In case anyone is wondering why that is so, your readers should be reminded that in late 2001, the Bush administration's Department of Justice failed to seize countless Enron and Arthur Andersen documents before they were shredded and lost forever. Then in January 2002, the government allowed the sale of Enron Online to the Union Bank of Switzerland, thereby making any important information from that source permanently unavailable to federal investigators.
From these significant lapses on the part of his administration, it is not outrageous to conclude that George W. Bush has a personal interest in obscuring the truth about the way Enron was managed by his old friend Ken Lay.
Your July 9 article "With winds of war, don't you feel a draft?" observes that there may be no alternative to conscription. We should not worry over the issue of conscription, which is really just a symptom of a broader problem.
The real issue is that our leaders are resorting to force before all peaceful alternatives have been exhausted. While this is not an ideal world where every conflict can be solved through diplomacy, if the good men and women who voluntarily serve us are sent off to battle only as a last resort, conscription would be unneeded.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.