Zürich Local Custom Tips by Nemorino
Zürich Local Customs: 75 reviews and 118 photos
All the big Swiss banks are based in Zürich, and they all make huge profits thanks to their tradition of banking secrecy (Bankgeheimnis in German), which means that they never divulge the names of their account holders or any information about them.
In particular, they never give any information to the tax authorities of the countries where their account holders live.
This does not sit well with the governments of the neighboring countries, particularly Germany and especially now since the economic crisis has caused a sharp drop in tax receipts.
The news recently has been full of stories about CD-ROMs with stolen bank data that mysterious unknown persons have been offering for sale to the German tax authorities. After a brief (maybe ten-minute) period of soul-searching about whether it was morally acceptable to buy stolen data, the German authorities have started doing so, much to the chagrin of some of their richest citizens.
This has caused some anti-German sentiment in Switzerland, but now the whole tradition of Swiss banking secrecy seems to be crumbling.
When I got off the train at Zürich HB (main station) the first thing I saw was this advertising poster with three rural Swiss gentlemen and the slogan: Banking secrecy is faltering, but our cheese secrecy remains. (Advertising Appenzeller cheese.)
A bit of Paris in Zürich
In the middle of Zürich there is a Wallace Fountain just like the ones in Paris, with explanatory plaques in several languages.
The explanation in English reads:
"Fountain from Paris, 1870, to initiate the 1982 World Convention of Water Experts in Zurich. The four nymphs personify simplicity, purity, sobriety and charity. They symbolize international co-operation in providing people everywhere with pure and salubrious water."
These fountains were named after the English philanthropist and art collector Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890), who donated them to the city of Paris in 1871 and 1872 (not 1870 as it says on the plaque) to provide safe drinking water for the people of Paris after the city’s public water supply had been destroyed during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 and the uprising of the Paris Commune.
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