I’m not sure I buy the argument that African money stashed away in Swiss bank accounts will cause the extinction by 2020 of Kenya’s lions.
It is true however that the amounts reported for several African countries with known lion ‘prides’ are staggering:
- Kenyans $857 million
- Tanzania $178 million
- Uganda $159 million
- Rwanda $29.7 million
- Burundi at $16.7 million.
It is also true that lions and elephants are routinely butchered because people are impoverished and “to a man with four goats, a lion eating two of them is like an arsonist burning down 20 mansions in a housing tycoon’s estate.”
Equally true is the fact that the Kenya-Uganda railway project almost didn’t happen because of the number of hapless Africans mauled or killed by lions witnessing the denudation of their hunting grounds.
As is often the case where ‘exotic’ wildlife is simultaneously the reason behind a profitable tourism industry and ‘bane’ of the local farmers’ existence; lions still have ‘people pulling power’ for reasons best understood by live observation of these creatures in their natural habitats.
That millions of dollars generated – directly or indirectly – because of lions continues to flow to Switzerland, where it can help neither the lion nor the famers who struggle at peaceful co-existence on the African plains, is not solely the fault of Swiss bankers.
No questions asked; No answers given
Money and morality do not mix in matters of financial services especially when international rules are deliberately circumvented by countries who are wilful participants in maintaining the Swiss near monopoly in the flow of foreign funds – with no questions asked; no answers given.
Even if you accept that institutionalised corruption – born of the same poverty that makes sacrificial lambs of the African lion – is to blame for the lack of confidence in Africa’s financial infrastructure, this does not diminish the culpability of those countries who support the business model of Swiss banks.
Much has been made about the fight against ‘tax havens’ by the G-20, the OECD and more recently the European Union with the endorsement and effective implementation of internationally accepted rules on transparency and information exchange at its core. Still exceptions to the rules continue to be made for Switzerland by the world’s largest economies and whose nationals are enthusiastic supporters of the African Safari.
If the proposed agreements between Switzerland and the UK, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria which will require the mere withholding of money for each Swiss bank account holder and not the exchange of information on the owners as contemplated by the provisions of Tax Information Exchange Agreements and Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Treaty, come into force then African governments whose treasuries continue to ‘haemorrhage’ money may also think this the preferred route rather than battle the Swiss to help expose those responsible for the continued under-development of the African continent.
It isn’t fair
It is easy to blame the Swiss for fighting to continue to do what they have done profitably for decades and which is the mainstay of their economy; but it isn’t fair.
The reality is that blame for the death of the lion falls squarely at the feet of those countries complicit in the perpetuation of the Swiss model of secret banking.