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IRS Tyranny against Swiss Bankers

by

Stefan Buck is a happy man. Last fall, a federal jury in Manhattan acquitted him of conspiracy to deprive the IRS of income tax revenue. Although a team of U.S. marshals was ready to take him into custody, Buck was free to walk out of the federal courthouse a free man and return to his home … in Switzerland.

Buck is a Swiss citizen. At the time of this supposed crime, he was a Swiss banker. His actions took place entirely in Switzerland. Nonetheless, demonstrating the worldwide reach of the U.S. empire, Buck was forced to stand trial in New York for supposedly conspiring to deprive the IRS of tax revenues while operating entirely in Switzerland.

Buck’s prosecution serves an instructive lesson for modern-day Americans. It helps show them the extent to which the income tax and IRS, and the welfare-warfare state apparatus that the income tax funds, have served to destroy the freedom and privacy of the American people.

Switzerland has long served as a model for financial privacy, a right that was also deeply ingrained in the American people for more than 100 years after the founding of the United States. The idea of financial privacy is that it is none of the government’s business how much money people are earning, how much wealth they have, and what they are doing with their own money. At a minimum, people have the right to keep everything they earn and decide for themselves what to do with it and to keep it all secret from the government and everyone else.

The Swiss understand the critical importance of this fundamental right. Historically Swiss banks have fiercely protected the privacy of their customers, something that banks in every country, including the United States, should be doing for their customers.

The IRS has long hated the Swiss and their penchant for financial privacy. That’s because historically some Americans have hidden their money in Swiss banks as a way to avoid payment of income taxes to the IRS. The attitude of the Swiss bankers has always been: Income-tax evasion might be an IRS problem but it isn’t a Swiss problem. Over the years, the Swiss banks continued to successfully resist IRS pressures to violate the privacy rights of their customers.

Diane Butrus, a business executive from St. Louis, was one of those Americans. According to an article in Saturday’s New York Times, she wanted to place $1.5 million in a secret Swiss bank account to avoid payment of  income taxes to the IRS. She found Bank Frey, where Buck worked and which was more than willing to accommodate Butrus.

In the late 2000s, as part of a IRS-Justice Department crusade against Swiss bankers, the feds turned Butrus into a snitch against Buck and Bank Frey. After they had Buck indicted in Manhattan for conspiring to deprive the IRS of tax revenues, Butrus later became a principal witness against him at trial, telling the jury that he actively helped her hide her money to evade payment of her taxes.

When first indicted, Buck figured that he was safe. The Swiss government was never going to agree to the U.S. government’s extradition demands. But given the worldwide reach of the U.S. empire, Buck, who was 32 years old, also realized that he would never again be able to leave Switzerland, since other countries would be more than willing to please U.S. officials with his extradition. This was brought home to him one day in the Swiss Alps when he was about to ski over the border into France. Deciding not to take the chance of being arrested by French border guards and extradited to the U.S., he removed his skis and walked back up the mountain to ensure that he remained in Switzerland.

Buck decided that this was not the way he wanted to live his life. He voluntarily traveled to the United States to stand trial. His position was simple: If Americans wanted to cheat on their taxes, that was their business and the business of the IRS, not the business of Swiss bankers.

To the jury’s ever-lasting credit — and what clearly bordered on “jury nullification” — the jury returned with a not-guilty verdict, notwithstanding evidence at trial that Buck and Bank Frey had openly helped American depositors to hide their money from the IRS. The jury obviously concluded that U.S. tax evasion was the responsibility of the IRS, not Swiss bankers.

Of course, the concept of financial privacy is entirely foreign to American banks. American banks have been converted into unofficial agents of the U.S. government, serving as its loyal snitches against their very own customers. One of the best examples of this phenomenon is the law that requires bankers to run to the feds and report any “unusual” financial transaction of their customers, an obligation that all too many bankers fulfill with great zeal, not only because they’re afraid of what the feds might do to them if they fail to do so but also to curry favor with the feds and their army of bank regulators.

In fact, federal regulation of banks demonstrates perfectly the servile attitude of American bankers to the feds. Whenever a federal banking regulator unexpectedly enters a bank and announces a surprise inspection, everyone in the bank, from the president on down, suddenly become like little children, bowing and scraping to the regulators in the hopes that they won’t write them up with too many violations.

It’s all because the IRS is charged with securing the money to fund America’s voracious welfare-state and warfare-state way of life. As federal spending and debt continue to grow exponentially, the pressure on the IRS from Congress, the Pentagon, the CIA, the welfare-regulatory bureaucracy, and the recipients of federal largess, has grown as well. The message is clear: “Do whatever you must to continue collecting the money to fund this ever-growing monstrosity, even if it means destroying financial privacy in Switzerland and jailing as many Swiss bankers as possible here in the United States for daring to deprive the IRS of money.”

As our American ancestors understood so well, a free society is an income-tax free society. That’s why there was no income tax for more than 100 years. There was also no welfare state and no warfare state. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, foreign aid, education grants, farm subsidies, or other welfare. No foreign interventions, foreign wars, assassinations, coups, regime-change operations, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, and kidnappings.

American kept everything they earned and there was nothing the feds could do about it. No income tax returns. No IRS. No IRS audits. Freedom, Americans once believed, encompasses the right to keep what you earn and decide for yourself on what to do with it. It also encompasses the right of financial privacy — the right to deposit their money into banks with the assurance that it will be immune from the prying eyes of the government and everyone else.

Interestingly enough, Buck isn’t the only Swiss banker who has been acquitted of this newly created crime by Swiss bankers of conspiracy to deprive the IRS of money. Federal juries have also acquitted two other Swiss bankers, which undoubtedly has shaken the IRS and federal prosecutors who have dozens more prosecutions pending

Maybe, just maybe, these acquittals are reflecting that Americans are starting to stir against the tyranny and oppression of the IRS and maybe even the welfare-warfare tyranny it funds.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.