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The following documents are of general interest and available to our clients. It provides general information which each investor should be aware of.

1. Switzerland and its Financial Center

2. Swiss Banking Secrecy

3. Geneva and its Financial Center

1.     Switzerland and its Financial Center

Facts & Figures
Switzerland, a small country on the world scale, has successfully made a name for the quality of its services and goods in many fields: watchmaking, pharmaceuticals, machine tools, food products (chocolate and cheeses), etc. All of these accomplishments attest to the quality of the workforce and its desire to do the job well.

However, if there is one economic activity that stands out in particular for contributing the most to the relative prosperity of our country, it is the financial industry.

Switzerland is one of the world’s main financial centres, with a strong specialization in private and institutional asset management. 

The country's position in the heart of Europe, the importance its government attaches to continuity, its liberal principles and economic stability, its dedication to the free movement of capital and the protection of bank client confidentiality make Switzerland an ideal location for the management of private capital. 

Furthermore financial expertise, multilingual skills and highly developed information technology have attracted investors to Switzerland from the four corners of the earth. Some 35% of the world's private assets deposited outside the country of domicile are managed from Switzerland. At the end of 2005, 337 banks were physically present in Switzerland. By May 2006, banks manage CHF 4'712 billion in client assets under management. Out of this amount, 41 % came from Swiss clients and 59% from foreign clients.

Culture of Service
The excellence of service is seen immediately with the welcoming reception, the ready availability of banking professionals, and the personalized and close-knit customer relations that only confidence and confidentiality can impart. It is also shown through the counseling and investment strategies implemented according to client expectations, without forgetting the precision and efficiency of the administrative followup procedures.

Client satisfaction made the reputation of the Swiss financial industry, due to the competence of managers and specialists and their knowledge of foreign languages and cultures, the diversity of banks and other financial partners, and the vast choice of financial instruments.

Global strategies
Global management strategies with effective distributions of permanently optimized assets account for the renown of Swiss bankers.

Starting in the 17th century, they began developing international strategies and heavily diversified their investments over currencies, geographic areas, countries and economic segments. This attention to asset distribution and risk control remains one of the foundations of Swiss banking know-how.

Exemplary confidentiality
The Swiss bank client confidentiality laws respond to a fundamental imperative for liberty and of respect for individual rights. They provide a legal dimension to the absolute discretion which has always been a cornerstone of Swiss banking.

The legal system can waive the confidentiality rules in case of criminal offences. Outside of these cases, Swiss bank clients enjoy limitless protection and the knowledge that their manager will always maintain absolute discretion. In this domain, personal and professional ethics lie deeper than laws.

2.     Swiss Banking Secrecy

Legal Basis
The Swiss banker's professional duty of client confidentiality is rooted in Article 47 of the Federal Law on Banks and Savings Banks, which came into force on November 8, 1934. The article stipulates that anyone acting in his/her capacity as member of a banking body, as a bank employee, agent, liquidator or auditor, as an observer of the Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC), or as a member of a body or an employee belonging to an accredited auditing institution, is not permitted to divulge information entrusted to him/her or of which he/she has been apprised because of his/her position.

Although the Federal Law refers to "banking secrecy", it is important to note that this duty of discretion is not intended to protect the bank but the client. In that sense, the terms "bank client confidentiality" or "financial privacy" are much more appropriate.

It is a question of protecting personal privacy, a basic right established under the Swiss constitution (Art. 13) wherein the Swiss legislation guarantees respect for privacy.

Limits of Swiss banking secrecy

Any attempt by a third party to obtain details of the beneficial ownership will be responded to with a request for a Swiss court order. The Swiss court will hear a submission of evidence from foreign governmental agencies, but in practice they are infrequent and difficult to pursue. The Swiss courts do not protect criminals or money laundering, but, Federal law in Switzerland does not consider tax mitigation as a crime.

Consequences of violating Swiss banking secrecy

Any violation of Swiss banking secrecy, whether through negligence or intentionally, is punishable by a prison sentence (maximum 6 months) or by a fine of up to CHF 50,000 (CHF 30,000 in case of negligence).

Violating Swiss banking secrecy remains a punishable offence even after the relationship with the client has come to an end or the banker has ceased his/her professional activity (Art. 47, Federal Law on Banks and Savings Banks).

3.     Geneva and its Financial Center

The history of Geneva's financial center

During the 14th and 15th centuries, Geneva became one of the major European trade fair capitals.

Funds were conveyed, money was transferred, exchange and credit were granted: traders turned into bankers.

This long-standing financial practice even led Calvin to legitimize the monetary trade, an opening that had a lasting influence on the moral standards and economic development of Protestant countries, from Geneva to Holland, Germany to Sweden, and England to the United States.

As far back as the 17th century, Geneva developed a commercial network which extended around the
world. The city's bankers financed the Dutch West Indies Company, the Royal Bank of England, the Royal Manufacture of Mirrors (Saint-Gobain, the first industrial company in Europe) and many other ventures.

Geneva bankers became advisers to ministers and kings, and even became ministers themselves.

Albert Gallatin became Secretary of the United States Treasury and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, Georges Prévost was the Governor General of Canada, Pierre Isaac Thellusson the Director of the Bank of England and Jacques Necker the Minister of Finance under Louis XVI.

In the 19th century, Geneva bankers played an active part in the industrial and commercial development of Switzerland and Europe by financing railway companies and issuing public loans.

Geneva, world leader in asset management
Today Geneva is the heart of the Swiss asset management business. 140 banking firms (including some 60 foreign-owned institutions), 900 finance companies and 400 independent asset managers offer their expertise.

The Geneva financial centre is considered to be the most important in the world with regard to private transnational asset management. Industry specialists estimate that approximately 40% of the USD 3,600 billion assets managed in Switzerland are directly or indirectly controlled from Geneva.

Effectiveness and efficiency combined with banker's discretion have forged Geneva's worldwide reputation. It is a benchmark of excellence for other financial centres. The success of the term of "private banking" underlines the fact that the criteria of quality that are applied to Geneva represent a world reference for the profession.

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