Much of Switzerland’s wealth is built upon its powerful and secretive financial sector. While it has long been a safe haven for wealthy individuals seeking to stash their cash, sociologist Jean Ziegler (no relation) argues that it is time for the famously neutral nation to reform its banking sector. In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel, he asserts that the country has enriched itself through stolen goods:
Money comes to Switzerland through three illegal sources: tax evasion in other developed countries, the blood money of dictators and other rulers in the Third World and organized crime.
Ziegler, who served on the Swiss National Council for 18 years and also acted as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for another 8, is lukewarm about the prospects for change. On the one hand, he sees popular pressure from neighboring Germany and data leaks that could reveal the origins of deposits in his country’s banks. That said, he notes that much inertia must be overcome before real change can happen.
The structure of the Swiss ruling class is rock-hard, and unchanged since the time of Napoleon. They sit on their mountains and lecture the world on democracy.