Issuu on Google+

N° 3 1 / A U T U M N 2 0 1 2

YOU SAID t Repotor 36

PP. 25

TAX HAVEN ?

, r ner fo t r a p TZ media PG-RY S e h t f e ning o s Offic e e p l o a S e th up te Gro a t s E l Rea sanne in Lau

REAL ESTATE OFFERS : TO RENT / FOR SALE PP. 55 to 97


Un service taillé sur mesure Du dégât d’eau à la rénovation complète

Notre métier est de vous offrir des conseils avertis en matière de rénovations et de vous faire bénéficier de nos compétences dans le domaine du bâtiment. Notre intervention débute dès la prise de contact sur le terrain avec une étude estimative de votre projet. Notre force réside dans notre faculté de réaction rapide. Nous sommes en mesure de mettre en place tous projets de rénovations dans les meilleurs délais, tout en maintenant des tarifs concurrentiels. Sur simple demande nous pouvons vous établir gratuitement un devis et chiffrer au plus juste votre budget pour les travaux.


Editorial

You said tax haven ? 

T

here is certainly a good dose of naivety in Switzerland, in thinking that we can maintain informal or even amicable exchanges with our European neighbours, all the while officially harbouring their taxpayers’ undeclared assets here. But it is especially naive to imagine that the situation will be completely normalised by new rules on transparency and exchange of information, as if, moreover, there was no fierce economic war in existence between various international financial centres.

Editorial

*Report on cybercrime by the Compagnie Européenne d’Intelligence Stratégique (European Strategic Intelligence Company).

By giving the floor not only to recognised Swiss specialists in tax and banking matters, but by also carrying out an overview of the practices of the various States in terms of tax and monitoring flows of capital, we wanted to highlight that Switzerland, while very isolated, nevertheless does not have grounds to nurture this feeling of guilt that we try, with a certain amount of success, to create in our fellow citizens. Without a doubt, we don’t quite know why Spain (and not only Holland) practices the system of ETVE (entities holding foreign securities) which enabled Exxon to collect 10 billion in profits, fully tax free, in two years; and if everyone, or almost everyone, heard Delaware being spoken of, do we know in concrete terms, beyond the record number of domiciliary companies – more than one per inhabitant – that the creation of a new entity there is possible via the Internet for less than 200 dollars and that the economic beneficiary may remain completely secret there ? And that this small State within the world’s primary superpower is far from being a unique case, as more than a dozen American States (Nevada and Wyoming among them) are competing in this niche market. Not surprising then that a report on cybercrime names the United States of America as « the country most sought after for illegal financial flows »*. And without a doubt, we don’t quite know why Switzerland does not meet the accepted criteria of tax havens by a long way (with, in particular, very heavy wealth tax when compared internationally), as witnessed by the fact that French tax expatriates mainly choose England or Belgium, rather than Switzerland, as a new destination. Perhaps you are asking what is the point of dealing with this theme in a general circulation publication ? Well, because it basically interests the average citizen even more than our major banks : these are organised to follow and deal with their clientele in the new financial centres which are picking up the slack from Switzerland, such as Singapore, while our fellow citizens are directly suffering the effects of the Swiss financial centre’s slimming down programme (more than 10% of GDP all the same !). In other words, it is not so much as being preoccupied with the health of the Swiss banks, who are largely globalised, as employment in our country and especially in our region. Is that not then a good reason for us all to be interested in this issue, its challenges and what can even be rescued ?

Thierry Barbier-Mueller

Read me in English. Click on www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

3


ia nce ia nce

M M

ar ar f f q u eq u ee c oe nc o n d d

Installations sanitaires ferblanterie sàrl h a d è s g r ah pa d h èi ss gm r ea p h i s m e

Service d’urgence 24/24 | tél. 022|885 03 85 ou 022|329 36 04

f e Grebn èlvae n2 6t e r i e 1I7n , rsute aF rlalnaç oti is -oDn u sss a usda-ncip t1a6 i2 8r e - s1 2 11

sàrl

fService a x 02 2 | 8d’urgence 8 5 0 3 8 8 o u24/24 02 2 | 3 2|8 tél. 9 0 0022|885 9 | w w w. n l03 - s a n85 i t a iou r e . c022|329 h

36 04

1 7 , r u e F r a n ç o i s - D u s s a u d - c p 1 6 2 8 - 1 2 11 G e n è v e 2 6 f a x 02 2 | 8 8 5 0 3 8 8 o u 02 2 | 3 2 8 9 0 0 9 | w w w. n l - s a n i t a i r e . c h


Table of Contents

N° 31 – AUTUMN 2012

impressum A publication of

SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE

DE GÉRANCE

Route de Chêne 36 – 1208 Geneva Phone : 022 849 61 61 Fax : 022 849 61 00 www.spg.ch

Publication Service

Route de Chêne 36 – 1208 Geneva Phone : 022 849 65 60 - Fax  : 022 849 61 80 E-mail  : publications@spg.ch www.immorama.ch

Editorial by Thierry Barbier-Mueller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 opening The SPG-RYTZ Real Estate Group opens in Lausanne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 SPG Finest Properties sets up two new agencies in Nyon and Lausanne. . . . . . . . . 9 After Geneva, Basel and Zurich, SPG Intercity drops anchor in Lausanne. . . . . . . . 13 From Geneva to Lausanne, a propensity of dynamic and reputable properties. . . . 17

rentals Rent a villa: from taking the mandate to the rental. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 new The Saint-Georges brightens up the heart of Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 online Owners, a multimedia platform which simplifies life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Publisher

Thierry Barbier-Mueller

report You said tax haven ? by Thierry Oppikofer and Christine Esseiva .. . . . 25

Editor in Chief

ecology Stop energy waste. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Christine Esseiva redaction@immorama.ch

Advertising

Edouard Carrascosa edouard.carrascosa@spg.ch Phone : 022 849 65 61 - Fax : 022 849 61 80

Real Estate Publication and Distribution Béatrice Repole

Page layout and Production Thi Bao Pham

competition One week to improve the convenience of the city of Geneva. . . 41 baths Bathe, under the cover of heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 green Lausanne, capital of nature. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 wonders The 7 wonders of the world. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 heart « Eve la Vie », supporting people in mourning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Wide choice of real estate offers :

Subscriptions

Phone : 022 849 65 68 / 57 abonnements@immorama.ch

The following have taken part in the production of this issue : Claude Atallah Philippe Buzzi Martin Dunning Fabien Rei

D. Bakis-Métoudi Laurence Duez Cédric Pidoux C. de Senarclens

Printing, binding, proofing

Swissprinters Lausanne SA, Renens

Cover

Design : Philippe Govin / les Lapinsgovin Circulation of this issue : 301,000 copies Controlled circulation (REMP 2011) : 232,131 copies Published bi-annually : March and October Founded in 1997 English version available electronically : www.immorama.ch The offers contained in the real estate pages are not contractual documents.

SPG FINEST PROPERTIES Switzerland Unusual residences for sale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE Geneva, Vaud, Valais and Jura Villas, apartments and new programs for sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Properties for sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Apartments and villas for rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Commercial premises for rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 SPG INTERCITY Geneva and Vaud Commercial premises for rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 RYTZ & CIE S.A. Vaud Promotions, villas and apartments for sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 AGENCE IFA Neighbouring France Apartments for sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

This publication is published by SPG Group, part of the SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE, RYTZ & Cie SA and IFA. All rights reserved. © 2012 SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE, Geneva Next publication in March 2013 In case of conflit, the french version prevail.

CASTLES - ISLANDS Indulge yourself ! Castle for sale in Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 ... Another extravagance ! Island for sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Electronic version www.immorama.ch

Read me in English. Click on www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

5


Une cuisine à votre goût Réalisez vos rêves grâce à Cuisinelle, la Générale du Bâtiment SA. Au-delà de vos projets d’agencement de cuisine, nous répondons présents à tous les travaux d’installations sanitaires, menuiserie, carrelage, peinture, électricité, chauffage, parquet, nettoyage... Avec l’assurance du professionalisme qui nous caractérise, nous mettons à votre service des entreprises genevoises et vous assurons un résultat de qualité.

uisinelle

la Générale du Bâtiment SA

Version Quadri Cuisinelle, la Générale du Bâtiment SA • 41, rue Eugène Marziano • CP 1811

1211 Genève 26 • Tél. 022 809 63 70 • Fax 022 809 63 71 • www.cuisinelle.ch


The SPG-RYTZ Real Estate Group opens in Lausanne

Immoopening

The SPG-RYTZ Real Estate Group opens in Lausanne.

Opening of an office in Lausanne, 14 Place de la Navigation in Ouchy The company RYTZ & CIE S.A. took advantage of its affiliation with the Genevan managed SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE in 1988 to strengthen its establishment in the Genevan Arc and its opening internationally. From now on, it will be consolidating its presence in Lausanne and beyond. « We have been well known for our expertise and our high quality of service for many years. Our main objective is to extend this expertise to the Lausanne region, covering all areas of real estate, from PPE (Phased property ownership) administration, leasing management, through brokerage and advertising coordination », explain Christian Mullegg and Fabien Rei, Directors at RYTZ & CIE S.A. « At Ouchy, we offer the same services as in Nyon, following the same demand for quality of work which has made our reputation », clarifies Mr. Mullegg. « Today with more than 250 associates, the SPG-RYTZ Group has experience and expertise covering all areas of real estate, without exception », explains Fabien Rei.

opening Founded in 1947, the Nyon company RYTZ & CIE S.A. is one of the key players in the development of the Vaud coast and has actively contributed to the expansion of this region. From now on, under the impetus of its three directors, Thierry Barbier-Mueller, Yves Rytz and Gérald Morand, its ambition is to extend into Lausanne and on the Riviera, from its new offices situated in Lausanne-Ouchy, 14 Place de la Navigation. www.rytz.com

Tel : 058 810 35 00

An experienced team The new RYTZ & CIE S.A. office in Lausanne relies on a team formed from experienced associates with full knowledge of the Lausanne real estate market and who, in addition to English, speak other foreign languages such as Russian and Ukrainian. It can also count on the experience of the company’s two directors : Christian Mullegg, Administrative Director, with the benefit of lengthy professional experience in real estate management, including the last eleven years with RYTZ & CIE S.A., and Fabien Rei, Sales Director, having joined the RYTZ & CIE S.A. Group more recently. The latter has gained more than fifteen years’ experience in management positions in the Swiss French banking environment.

THIERRY YVES BARBIER-MUELLER RYTZ CEO CEO

GÉRALD MORAND CEO

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

7

ISO 9001 Certification « We count among our assets the fact that we pay particular attention to the continued training of our staff », explains Christian Mullegg, for whom the strength of RYTZ & CIE S.A. resides in the quality of its services.

See all real estate offers

>>> www.rytz.com


Immoopening

The SPG-RYTZ Real Estate Group opens in Lausanne

The quality management system within RYTZ & CIE S.A. has obtained ISO 9001 certification, enabling the company to formalise its working procedures, making them more efficient and ensuring that all services and methods of dealing with cases are carried out with a high level of expectation. « For the client, ISO certification is a pledge of trust and reliability », assesses Christian Mullegg. CHRISTIAN MULLEGG Administrative Director

FABIEN REI Sales Director

The Nyon company can also boast about having managed the construction and marketing for numerous significant real estate transactions such as the « Domaine des Perrières » in Coppet or the « Résidences du Parc » in Nyon. This latest project, which will end in October 2013, alone represents 131 apartments, many of which have already found a buyer, more than a year before completion.

On iPhone and iPad

« The Nyon company can also boast about having managed the construction and marketing for numerous significant real estate transactions. »

RYTZ’s credibility has nothing more to prove. Yet the business is always improving its services and updating itself to respond to client needs. For example, on this subject, Fabien Rei recalls that RYTZ & CIE S.A. offers state-of-the-art technological tools such as a mobile website, a service for alerts via email, applications for iPhone and iPad as well as an Extranet network « RYTZ online », enabling all owners to have access to the financial statements of their properties being managed by the company. Mr. Mullegg also explains that the company offers tailor-made services for institutional clients and owners of significant real estate portfolios. The manager is sure to attract a growing number of these large real estate owners, mainly thanks to the quality of the services and personalised services offered by the company. With the opening of the RYTZ & CIE S.A. office in Ouchy, the residents and business of greater Lausanne and the Riviera have a new benchmark point of contact for their real estate issues. « Nothing can take the place of experience and expertise », conclude the two directors of RYTZ & CIE S.A., in unison. ■

SPG-RYTZ REAL ESTATE GROUP The strength of a local presence and a global network

GLOBAL REAL ESTATE ADVICE

management-brokerage-advertising

PRESTIGE REAL ESTATE

www.spg.ch – www.rytz.com – www.spgfinestproperties.ch – www.christiesrealestate.com

8

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

Read me in English. Click on www.immorama.ch


SPG Finest Properties sets up two new agencies in Nyon and Lausanne

Immoopening

SPG Finest Properties : specialist in upmarket real estate

SPG Finest Properties. Initially based in Geneva, the upmarket real estate agency is also setting itself up in Nyon and Lausanne this Autumn.

SPG Finest Properties sets up two new agencies in Nyon and Lausanne

opening

SPG Finest Properties is an agency specialising in upmarket real estate. It sells or rents dream residences in Frenchspeaking Switzerland and in Gstaad. From now on, it will have two new agencies in addition to the one in Geneva, in Nyon and in Lausanne. Originally established in Geneva, SPG Finest Properties, the agency specialising in the search, sale and rental of upmarket property is expanding. This Autumn, two new offices are being opened in Nyon and in Lausanne « to better respond to demand and further increase the quality of our services », explains Fabien Rei, who, together with Claude Atallah, will head up the agency. « Our VIPs are the big bosses, actors, elite sportsmen, or those less well-known but very wealthy. We are setting everything up so as to respond to the expectations of this upmarket clientele by establishing a relationship based on trust. Whatever the request, we endeavour to find the best solutions. SPG Finest Properties guarantees them full attention and unfailing availability, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week », adds Claude Atallah. « The linguistic aspect is also a paramount criterion in this segment, explains Fabien Rei, and in addition to English, we will be able to offer to deal with our clients in languages such as Hindi, Russian and Ukrainian, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. »

« Our clientele expects a 7 star luxury service from us and we respond to them with care, offering them the most exceptional properties », explains Claude Atallah, Director of SPG Finest Properties.

Rare and precious properties SPG Finest Properties is always on the lookout for the rarest properties in the Genevan Arc ; these are often waterfront houses or those enjoying a unique view. As always in real estate, the price is in relation to the position but also to « love at first sight ». « We are about to complete a sale for 18 million Francs for 500 m2 in the Vieille Ville (Old Town). This apartment has been exceptionally well renovated. We are negotiating for another residence in the vineyards with a panoramic view over the Alps, for 22 million. This is so well designed that the buyers could move in there with their luggage tomorrow », Claude Atallah tells us. SPG Finest Properties’ advisers are multilingual and specially selected. Their activity is governed by a strict code of ethics and they are capable of assisting VIPs in all areas associated with the purchase and rental of a property, making available a network of proven experts: lawyers, notaries, architects, trustees and bankers. To spread their

See all real estate offers

>>> www.spgfinestproperties.ch

CLAUDE ATALLAH Director

FABIEN REI Director

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

9


Immoopening

SPG Finest Properties sets up two new agencies in Nyon and Lausanne

news, they rely on reviews of their reputation, such as L’INFORMATION IMMOBILIÈRE, published three times a year by the SPG-RYTZ Group, with almost 100,000 copies, and distributed throughout Switzerland, or that of Christie’s, CHRISTIE’S INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE of which 80,000 copies are distributed, four times a year. Route de Frontenex 41 A CH - 1207 Geneva Tél. +41  22 707 46 60 Fax +41 22 707 46 66 geneva@spgfinestproper ties.ch Avenue Alfred-Cortot 7 CH - 1260 Nyon Tél. +41  58 810 36 50 Fax +41  58 810 36 11 nyon@spgfinestproper ties.ch Place de la Navigation 14 CH - 1006 Lausanne-Ouchy Tél. +41  58 810 35 50 Fax +41  58 810 35 05 lausanne@spgfinestproper ties.ch

Follow SPG Finest Properties on SPG Finest Properties @SPGFinest www.spgfinestproperties.ch To sign up for our newsletters : publications@spgfinestproperties.ch

amoudruz_D_n94.qxp:Mise en page 1 Advertising

An exclusive network throughout the world In 2005, SPG Finest Properties agreed an exclusive partnership with Christie’s International Real Estate, the global benchmark in the luxury real estate sector. This affiliation enables SPG Finest Properties to cover, in Switzerland, the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, Vaud, Valais, Jura, and the region of Gstaad and Rougemont (Bernese Oberland). Abroad, the network opens the doors in particular to some grand residences and castles in France, Great Britain and Italy. These links benefit Swiss residents as well as foreigners who can directly approach, in complete confidence, SPG Finest Properties’ advisers or one of the 160 affiliated agencies worldwide. « Thanks to this partnership, we provide our clients with access to a selection of prestige properties throughout the world. We can even offer islands in the most beautiful paradises on earth. Through our service, we sell dreams. We are committed to providing an impeccable service as much in Switzerland as in the rest of the world », explain Mr. Atallah and Mr. Rei together.

Sales by auction and private viewings Thanks to the privileged relations with the parent company Christie’s Fine Art, the famous British auction house, SPG Finest Properties has also developed synergies between the world of real estate and art and regularly organises private evenings which take place either sales by auction or private viewings of exhibitions. « The people who form the SPG Finest Properties and Christie’s network are very partial to these meetings, always12:43 held with dominant theme of elegance, refinement and relaxation », 9.7.2007 Pagea 1 explains its Genevan Manager. ■

amoudruz s.a. vidange et bâtiment Rue Eugène-Marziano 23b - 1227 Acacias tél. 022 329 05 24 - fax 022 320 37 02 contact@amoudruz-sa.ch

entretien

toutes installations d’eaux claires et d’eaux usées, eaux pluviales, pompes et stations de pompage.

étude

recherche de cause d’insalubrité, recherche par caméra, détection par bip, repérages, relevés, conception de canalisations, création de séparatifs.

dépannage vidange curage

10

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

24 h sur 24, pompage, débouchage de wc, éviers, baignoires, lavabos, réparations rapides. hydrodynamique HP et hydraulique de canalisations, fosses, drainages, égoûts, séparateurs, pompes. colonnes de chute et trainasses d’eaux claires et d’eaux usées.

IMMORAMA, this advert will be read by more than 300,000 readers.


miante & Dés miantage

Crédits photos : Thinkstock

Diagnostic

BERTOLIT SA (GE) route des Jeunes 43 cH - 1227 carouge tél. +41 (0)22 777 77 81

Personne de contact :

BERTOLIT SA (VD) route de denges 28B cH - 1027 LonaY tél. : +41 (0)21 320 77 81

BERTOLIT SA (FRANCE) 10, avenue de Genève F-74160 st-Julien en Genevois tél. : +33 (0)4 50 35 09 91

Daisy GROS : +41 (0)79 309 55 30 - daisy.gros@bertolit.ch

www.bertolit.ch bertolit@bertolit.ch


Avenue de la Praille 45 1227 Carouge TĂŠl 022 784 16 77 Fax 022 784 16 83 www.caragnano.ch


After Geneva, Basel and Zurich, SPG Intercity drops anchor in Lausanne

Immoopening

SPG Intercity : specialising in commercial real estate SPG Intercity. Active in Geneva, the team is now active in Lausanne, while maintaining a link with Zurich and Basel.

After Geneva, Basel and Zurich, SPG Intercity drops anchor in Lausanne Immoopening

opening

A solid local anchorage enables them to play a part on the stage belonging to the major international players. SPG Intercity is an independent real estate advice company, for commercial or industrial establishments. This pioneer has invented new skills overlaid on those practised in the Anglo-Saxon countries. After an outright success in the Geneva region, in Zurich and in Basel, the company is opening in Lausanne. Launched in 2000, at the request of international clients who could finally acquire real estate property in Switzerland, thanks to the Lex Friedrich Declaration, this company was created on the joint impetus of the Swiss German group Intercity and the Swiss French group SPG. « We have become independent as we wanted to avoid any conflict of interests and to be able to offer our large international clients the best commercial locations for their businesses, coming from a large range of partners. Transparency is the basis of the ethics of our craft which was created in the Anglo-Saxon countries. We are among the pioneers practising this in Switzerland, and particularly in Geneva, Zurich, Basel and soon in Lausanne », recalled Martin Dunning, CEO of SPG Intercity. In the beginning, the service consisted of a representation of foreign companies - Polo Ralph Lauren, Colgate-Palmolive - with local owners able to rent or sell commercial locations. Little by little, its activities have become orientated towards the representation of local owners with businesses looking to establish themselves in Switzerland. From now on, SPG Intercity is aiming at four categories of players : investors, owners of real estate property, advertisers and users of commercial premises. « It is by this gradual broadening of our tasks that we have acquired the skills in all areas of this niche commercial real estate market », explains Martin Dunning with enthusiasm.

« The exclusive affiliation with the Cushman & Wakefield international network enables us to rely on 15,000 professionals worldwide. »

MARTIN DUNNING Chief Executive Officer

In the SPG Intercity’s main aim consists of advising its clients in the real estate market, for example, by offering properties for its clients to purchase, sometimes putting together a bona fide real estate portfolio for them, then being responsible for setting up the client’s activities there. These services interest Swiss as

Read me in English. Click on www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

13


Immoopening

After Geneva, Basel and Zurich, SPG Intercity drops anchor in Lausanne

well as international investors. SPG Intercity is also responsible for finding land, for end to end project management, up to the delivery of the turnkey promotion. “We have done this in particular for the watchmaker Frédéric Constant, at the heart of the Genevan Watch Valley. We convinced him that his place was there ! “, recalls Martin Dunning. SPG Intercity Geneva S.A. Route de Frontenex 41A 1207 Genève Tel. +41 (0) 22 707 46 00 Fax +41 (0) 22 707 46 77 geneva@spgintercity.ch SPG Intercity Lausanne Place de la Navigation 14 CH - 1006 Lausanne-Ouchy Tél. +41  58 810 35 50 Fax +41  58 810 35 05 lausanne@spgintercity.ch SPG Intercity Basel Rennweg 40 Postfach 4020 Bâle Tel. +41 (0) 61 317 67 80 Fax +41 (0) 61 317 67 68 basel@spgintercity.ch SPG Intercity Zurich Zollikerstrasse 141 Postfach 8032 Zurich Tel. +41 (0) 44 388 58 48 Fax +41 (0) 44 388 58 00 zurich@spgintercity.ch www.spgintercity.ch

Big names on the signboards The evolution of its clientele has dictated that of the agency’s activities, which then leads to its record, not without pride, the setting up of the Apple boutique in the former Hollywood cinema in the rue de Rive, in Geneva. SPG Intercity’s honour roll is indeed filling up, for example with Chiquita Brands International’s head office in Rolle, the largest Swiss-French Porsche centre in Crissier, Transocean’s international head office in Vernier and the multinational Edwards Lifesciences in Nyon. If such international names have been dealt with by SPG Intercity, it is thanks to Cushman & Wakefield’s reputation and network. In fact, SPG Intercity established a partnership with the Cushman & Wakefield group, a real estate specialist with head offices in London and New York, long ago. SPG Intercity thus benefits from Cushman & Wakefield’s significant network of contacts and expertise, which employs almost 15,000 professionals in fifty-eight countries throughout the world. Among SPG Intercity niche markets, Investment Property Brokerage includes the « brokerage of investment real estate - offices, buildings for industrial use, residential properties, land and complete portfolios. We put sellers and potential buyers in contact with each other and assist them until the business is completed », explains Martin Dunning.

English-speaking teams The current teams amount to twenty-three people in Geneva, thirteen in Zurich, three in Basel and three in Lausanne. The advisers, who all speak at least English fluently, specialise in the search and rental of offices, sales and industrial premises ; but also in the development of projects and in the acquisition, sale and financing of assets.

Why Lausanne ? « We have been operating in the canton of Vaud since we have been in Geneva. Nevertheless, our profession is based very locally and we want to become a local partner in the Vaud market. To be respected as a major player, one needs a network, to be well known in the market and to establish trusted relationships with the other local players. From my position as Swiss-French Vice-President of the national real estate umbrella association SVIT, I have made some very solid contacts with the professionals in Swiss-French real estate », explains Martin Dunning.

The Genevan quarter of Pont-Rouge Blog For regular updates on news from SPG Intercity, you can read the blog : www.spgintercitynews.ch You can also subscribe to newsletters by completing the form available online. Happy reading !

14

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

« We have lengthy experience in real estate development which is available to our clients for their major projects. For example, we were retained by the CFF to deliver the commercial sites of the future quarter of Pont-Rouge, in Geneva, which will be centred around the CEVA station, with four office and commercial properties. It is estimated that about 41,000 passengers will pass through this new quarter on a daily basis to get to their place of work here in 2018 », anticipates Martin Dunning before the model of this ambitious project. In the Pont-Rouge deal, SPG Intercity is responsible for marketing the commercial premises in 2017, this being 110,000 m 2, 10,000 of which will be retail. « In our new line, we need to plan well in advance in order to optimise the investment and the deal. This is why we need to have pre-bookings for the commercial premises as quickly as possible. Even before construction, we needed to assess clients’ requirements », explains M. Dunning. ■

See our website www.spgintercity.ch


Votre expert énergétique

Nos compétences et notre organisation à votre service. Installation, Maintenance, Exploitation Chauffage Ventilation Climatisation Balestra Galiotto Chemin de Sapey 8 1212 Grand-Lancy Tél. +41 22 906 18 80 www.balestra-galiotto.ch Balestra Galiotto fait partie de la société française ETDE SA, une filiale du groupe Bouygues.


Immorama

FF

92

- Automne 2008 - no 23

16

- Autumn 2012 - n째 31

RR

II

GG OO RR

>>> Follow us


From Geneva to Lausanne, a propensity of dynamic and reputable properties

In business since 1960, the SPG Property Sales and Valuations department is an autonomous unit within the SPGRYTZ Group. With the opening of an office for the real estate group in Lausanne-Ouchy, clients from Vaud will also benefit from the strengths of the global network and especially from the skills of this very specialised real estate branch.

Immoopening

From Geneva to Lausanne, a propensity of dynamic and reputable properties

« Our first duty is the search and sale of offices and residential and commercial properties for our clients. Our service is also dedicated to the valuation and analysis of portfolios with a view to optimising them and in order to offer strategic management », declares Cédric Pidoux.

Dynamic and leading team The service also comprises a team of five people and is aimed at all those wishing to improve the profitability of their real estate investments, to sell, buy, value or simply be informed on the real estate market. « Our team benefits from the support and expertise of the other entities within the group. SPG Sales-Valuations of properties is thus at the heart of a network of skills and regional and international contacts. In that way, we offer first rate global real estate advice », assures Cédric Pidoux. The expertise of the SPG Real Estate Sales department is centred around four major areas of activity :

opening

1. The sale of properties which includes the analysis and the “pricing” of the property, it’s placing and the implementation of this plan up to the completion of the deal. The client also benefits from regular reporting of the activities undertaken with regard to the sale of their property.

2. The analyses and expert reports enable the different values of a property to be established. In the lifecycle of real estate property, owners from time to time need to know the market value of their property. This step may be taken with the purpose of marketing the property but also to assist the client in recording or paying off a charge, determining a share for inheritance or a separation, obtaining finance, updating their real estate value or ensure they meet accounting standards.

3. Real estate advisers help client owners to define a strategy for the management and optimisation of their portfolio. SPG Real Estate Sales and Valuations will, for example, help them identify any work needed, streamline costs and reduce them. In short, recommend the measures which will enable the client to optimise their performance, determine which properties to retain and which potentially to sell.

« We carry out a valuation and analysis of portfolios with a view to strategic optimisation and management. »

4. Mandates for prospecting or active research, to assist clients in the identification, analysis and acquisition of properties corresponding to their criteria. This last section is a new area developed with success by SPG Real Estate Sales. « The service being placed at the heart of a network of regional and international contacts, SPG Real Estate Sales and Valuations is in touch daily with all the players in the real estate market and understands each of their needs », explains Mr. Pidoux. He explains to us exactly what this new area of service consists of : « For example, we approach certain institutions which are very interested in investments in Switzerland but have not found the ideal property. Our task will be more complicated than a simple sale where we already have a seller in front of a potential purchaser. »

CÉDRIC PIDOUX Expert Real Estate Broker

CHRISTOPHE DE SENARCLENS Broker

« Firstly we need to identify very clearly what our client is looking for : the location, the type of property, the style, etc. Then, we identify owners of this type of

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

17


Immoopening

From Geneva to Lausanne, a propensity of dynamic and reputable properties

The sale of three BNS properties : a stroke of genius by SPG ! In 2011, the BNS (Banque Nationale Suisse) parted with a complex of three properties it owned in the heart of the banking quarter in Geneva. This very rare sale of this type of prestigious properties made the assessment of the objective value of the properties difficult. For this reason, but also due to the historic nature of this complex, the SPG Sales-Valuations department suggested to BNS that a sale by private call for bids, in two rounds, should be arranged. SPG was responsible, within an extremely short time scale, for preparing the different marketing material, producing a technical and factual description and organising an advertising campaign in order to give this sale the awareness it deserved. These various actions enabled, on the basis of a starting price set at CHF 81,000,000.00, a sales price for the complex of CHF 101,000,000.00 to be obtained. The Edmond de Rothschild Private Bank was the purchaser of two properties as well as the internal courtyard, on the rue de Hollande, for a sum of CHF 74,000,000.00 and the Royal Bank of Canada purchaser of the third property, for the sum of CHF 27,000,000.00. « The BNS shared with us its complete satisfaction regarding SPG’s service. We supported the seller from the absolute start, that is the expert report on the complex, to the end of this process, referring them and advising them at each stage. It was able to trust our professional expertise and our in-depth knowledge of the market ! », explains Cédric Pidoux.

property and approach them, on behalf of our client and with complete discretion. We can even go on to organise a publicity campaign, if necessary. Then we go on to carry out an analysis and a follow-up action for each case, a series of suggestions, then we make a purchase offer. Then, we set everything up to complete the deal », details Cédric Pidoux.

A shared risk It seems that institutions are very attracted by the discreet and very specialised prospecting as the SPG Real Estate Sales department is very competent. In addition, the SPG is only paid if successful. « By granting us the search mandate, our client has all the chances on their side and we are obliged to dip our toes in on their behalf. To do this, we produce a selection of cases responding to their criteria, an analysis of properties with a purchase proposal, a search for financing if necessary and support right up to signature », explains Mr. Pidoux.

Sale by the BNS in Geneva Over the course of the last few years, SPG Real Estate Sales has proved its worth, by achieving, in complete discretion, numerous significant sales such as : the Tour du Molard complex in Geneva, the « Saint-Léonard » commercial centre in Fribourg, a « sale and lease back » deal in the rue du Rhône, the « A La Croisée » commercial centre in Delémont and recently the sale of three properties by the Banque Nationale Suisse in Geneva, in the prestigious banking quarter. ■ Contact : SPG Real Estate Sales and Valuations Route de Chêne 36, 1208 Genève, Phone / Tel. +41 (0)22 849 65 51/54, www.spg.ch Report

opening produced by Isabel Garcia-Gill.

Advertising

18

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

IMMORAMA, this advert will be read by more than 300,000 readers.


Rent a villa: from taking the mandate to the rental

Luxury villas or apartments : the locations offered by the Residential Rentals Department of the SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE (SPG) responding to the demands of owners wishing to rent their villa or their apartment for any length of time and aimed at all kinds of clients. Laurence Duez, manager, explains his Department’s function.

Immorentals

Rent a villa : from taking the mandate to the rental by Rachel Garcia

– What are the criteria for renting out real estate property with the Residential Rentals Department of SPG ? Laurence Duez – There are two important criteria to calling on our services: firstly, to be an owner registered in the Land Register, and then to possess a residential property, that is, as we understand it in our profession, having a level of quality, in the finishing, for example, and/or a favoured position, that is to say, at the edge of the lake, in the Old Town, etc. Our portfolio mainly comprises luxury apartments and villas. All other rentals, apartments, studios and traditional villas are managed by SPG’s General Rentals department, part of the Management Department, as with Residential Rentals, managed by Philippe Buzzi. – Which type of residential property make up the majority of your portfolio ? – We mainly manage isolated plots, therefore individual residential properties. Very often these are luxury houses which respond to the demands of an affluent clientele. In total, about 65% of our offering is made up from villas and 35% from apartments. – How long do you anticipate between taking the mandate and putting it on the market ? – On average, the process takes ten days. But we can be even more responsive. It all depends on the owner’s availability. On the first telephone contact, we establish the detail of the services necessary. The first meeting may then take place within 48 hours. Once the owner agrees to our proposals, we immediately send him the Rental Search Mandate. At times, we have received a request for rental on a Tuesday and placed the property on the market on the Friday. Our reputation is based on the quality of our services and our responsiveness. – Who does your typical client resemble ? – We are aiming at Swiss as well as foreign clients. Among the tenants, we receive a high percentage of expatriates, who come to Switzerland for a limited period and who work in non-governmental organisations and diplomatic missions. Expatriates represent about 75% of our clientele. The rest is mainly made up from owners. It happens in fact that the latter entrust their property to use during an assignment abroad. In all cases, we prepare leases for a fixed term, that is one, two or even three years, depending on everyone’s requirements. With all these international clients, the team must be completely at ease in English ... It is a mandatory skill for the quality of our service. – What price range do you offer ? – Prices vary between 3,500 and 25,000 Francs on average. However, sometimes we manage exceptional properties valued at up to 75,000 Francs per month. But that remains very rare. There is no average tariff as the properties all have special features relating to their quality, aesthetics or position. Prices are adjusted in relation to these criteria. – To what does an owner who instructs SPG commit ? – He undertakes to adhere to the Labour Code. In plain language, he must deliver a property which complies with a healthy rental life. He must also adhere to the lease contract which he will have signed with the tenant. For example, if he wants to

Owners, trust us to rent your property !

rentals

« On average, the process takes ten days. But we can be even more responsive. »

En savoir plus

Learn more

Residential Rentals

Furnished and unfurnished

SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE Residential Rentals Furnished and unfurnished Route de Chêne 36 1208 Geneva Phone +41 22 849 61 50 locresid@spg.ch www.spg.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

19


Immorentals Rent a villa: from taking the mandate to the rental

« We work mainly with uncapped, and therefore, flexible, rents. »

reclaim his property for personal reasons or to put it up for sale, he must adhere to the minimum termination period, being three months’ minimum before the lease exchange. At the Residential Rentals department, we work mainly with uncapped, and therefore, flexible, rents. – There are seven people in your team. What role does each of them play ? – My assistant and I are responsible for the administrative tasks. We also have two technical managers, as well as their assistant, to carry out inventories and follow-up on works being carried out. Another person is dedicated to the development of furnished rentals. Finally, the last member of the team deals with the commercial aspect of rentals and mainly carries out the visits and estimates. – Once renovation works have started, how do you follow them up ? – The technical managers are continually out and about. In this way, the businesses carrying out the works are continually supervised by our department. Site meetings are arranged regularly up until the final inspection. The technical managers may thus, after the inspection, verify the invoices from the businesses undertaking the work, in full knowledge of the facts.

Also read Previous issue, IMMORAMA n° 30 pages 19 et 20 « Furnished, it’s flexibility »

– What types of advice do you give your client owners ? – We advise owners on the importance of optimising the quality of their residential properties. For example, if some of their buildings are showing signs of wear and tear, we suggest renovation works to them. If they are in favour of this, then we submit three estimates from different companies to them. The latter must also offer an environmentally friendly option, in accordance with SPG’s general policy, so the owner can make a choice with all the facts before him. These works may range from repairing a small leak to a new coat of paint throughout the whole property. We are also able to give advice from legal matters to home staging. Global advice is the strength of our service, and has established our reputation for over fifty years. ■

u h av e o y o d , s Owner hed a f u r n i s a t o re n t ? t or vill n e m t r a ap nts ! a n e t e v We ha

Owners, we can offer you:  Personal advice  Fast estimations  Rigorous management of your apartment or villa Contact us on +41 (0)22 849 61 50 locresid@spg.ch SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE Residential rentals e Rte de Chêne 36 | CH - 1208 Geneva | www.spg.ch bil o m Tel.: +41 22 849 61 50 | onlinenemail alerts

ver

ver 20

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

sio

n

bi mo

le

sio

Application and mobile version available

SPG-RYTZ Group

>>> Follow us


The Saint-Georges brightens up the heart of Geneva Immonew

Glass façade of the Saint-Georges Center. Newly completed, this fine building of glass brands the Boulevard Saint-Georges by its curves and coloured effects.

The Saint-Georges brightens up the heart of Geneva

new

by Richard Quincerot, Town Planner FSU

When you notice it at the top of the boulevard, it is firstly a colour, a red light in a grey artery, worn out over time. In this rapidly changing Plainpalais-La Jonction quarter, the Saint-Georges Center moves into position: it establishes itself, it takes its place, it is there, witnessing the powers of town regeneration. Approaching it, you discover a building of intriguing complexity: under the apparently unitary exterior, it brings together shapes of “both”, bringing architecture and town planning, modernity and baroque, innovation and tradition together. The whole is aided by flawless construction, as luxurious as a complex watch.

« A construction coming close to a watchmaker’s precision. »

An international private competition Let’s go back a few years. The site was occupied by a 1960’s office block, rigidly white and square, built by the Honegger brothers using the heavy prefabrication model applied to the construction of almost 10,000 residential properties in the canton of Geneva. Firstly, renovation had to be considered : to keep the interior and its seven floors, but replace its curtain walls, which had really become like colanders, with a new modern, soundproof and energy efficient skin. In 2003, convinced of the future of this city-centre address, SPG Asset Development chose to play the quality card by organising an international private competition. Seven Swiss, European and American architects were invited to propose a new façade for the old building. The jury retained the project put forward by the architects Sauerbruch Hutton (Berlin), who proposed to replace the 1960’s concrete plate façade with a curve of glass, enveloping the whole of the old building in a continuous sweep. Ultimately, the desire for regeneration triumphed over the whole building. On balance, it seemed preferable to replace not only the façades, but also the interior by demolishing the Honegger building and replacing it with a building that fully complied with contemporary standards and equipped with floors of active slabs, flexible to use and more meaningful for managing energy saving.

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

DOMINIQUE BAKIS-MÉTOUDI Director

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

21


Immonew

The Saint-Georges brightens up the heart of Geneva

A property « both » simple and complex

Saint-Georges Center in Geneva. At night, the building is bathed in light..

The Saint-Georges Center has achieved a stunning feat: it reconciles a collection of restrictions usually deemed to be contradictory and which are found, here, brought into congruence with a rare elegance. It is the architectural shape of « both », identified not long ago by the American abstract architect Robert Venturi . First of all, the volume : the adoption of the right angle to the curve allows « both » a one-piece strongly identifiable building to be created, and homage to be paid to block urbanism where the property is found to be perfectly integrated. Neither isolation nor mimicry, but compression : on the boulevard, the very tight curve of the façade develops with the margin of error traditionally reserved for the projections of balconies or bow-windows ; at the extremity, the radius of the curve narrows, giving the building the vertical profile of a tower ; behind, the curve unwinds again, dominating the courtyard of the block and its ill-assorted neighbourhood. Then, the style : the building is « both » baroque by its curves, which give the front, the gable end and the rear of the property continuity; and modern by its construction, the double skin of glass in coloured laminate which made the worldwide reputation of Sauerbruch & Hutton and combine, in a tried and tested arrangement, energy performance, soundproofing, solar protection and the aesthetic sheen of the clarity and reflections. Finally, the image : the Saint-Georges Centre is « both » monotone (a single design, repeated from top to bottom) and varied (a monochrome of warm colours) ; detached (the only one of its kind) and contextual (red tones taking on the colours of the neighbouring buildings) ; innovative (current) and classical (with an entrance in the centre), etc. Likewise, the interior of the building displays a stunning mixture of impeccable rationality and warm arrangements, offering « both » the cool of the calculation and the pleasure of the hospitality.

A construction coming close to a watchmaker’s precision

*Robert Venturi, Complexity and contradiction in architecture, New York, 1966 ; French translation De l’ambiguïté en architecture, Paris, 1971.

This brilliant demonstration of the art of reconciling opposites is served by a construction coming close to a watchmaker’s precision. In this regard, we must salute the triple commitment of the client, the architects and the companies who, each in their own area of responsibility, have dealt with the demanding challenges of this very exceptional project. Under the general project management of SPG Asset Development, the architectural management was carried out by the Berlin-based company Sauerbruch & Hutton, partners with the Genevan Fabio Fossati, renowned for several remarkable achievements in Geneva (especially the bright building situated at the corner of the avenue de l’Amandolier and the route de Chêne). The technical management of the works was undertaken by the engineering company Pillet S.A. The true feat that the construction of the façade represented must be stressed in particular: the manufacturer of the arched and convex pieces of glass for all the different curves ; their transport without breakage and their storage on-site; their erection in order, starting on one side and with enough precision so that the sequence of the spans eventually falls just at the end ; finally the finishing and cleaning as had been planned at the start. Started in August 2010 and achieved without the slightest hitch, the project delivered this Autumn seven floors of a Minergie building of a type new to Geneva, a sparkling symbol of the regeneration of the Jonction quarter. ■

Advertising

Exposition permanente Service après-vente Réparations et entretien toutes marques

www.chalut-greenservice.ch

22

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

JUSSY 022 759 91 91 MIES 022 755 60 22 CUGY 021 731 29 91

>>> Follow us


Owners, a multimedia platform which simplifies life Immoonline

Thanks to the SPG and RYTZ partners’ online multimedia platform, in the blink of an eye, the owner can access all their property information from wherever he is connected to the internet. Available since 2009, this offline service offers numerous functionalities, is being extended and modernised in line with evolving technologies and with the sole purpose of simplifying the management of owners’ property portfolios. For Philippe Buzzi, Director of the SOCIÉTÉ PRIVÉE DE GÉRANCE’s Management Department, « the online system has enabled our clients to benefit from the same level of work rationalization that we apply internally. Monitoring their portfolios remotely unquestionably simplifies life for them ». « We base all our services on relationships of trust. Indeed, one of the major elements of trust is measured by the quality of transparency of communication. This is why we are keen on the client being able to access all their information remotely at any time, via the Intranet », adds Christian Mullegg, Manager at RYTZ & CIE S.A.

Owners, a multimedia platform which simplifies life by Claire Vaudremont

« It’s similar to the principle of e-banking. »

See everything with one click It’s similar to the principle of e-banking : the company’s client receives a personal access code allowing them to log into the system and check all the information concerning their property portfolio (rental status, accounts). All client information is updated within 24 hours. For example, if the client receives an invoice for work on their property, the invoice is scanned, then will be processed by the manager who checks its authenticity and that it is correct, then he must validate it, which triggers the order for payment with the Accounts Department and therefore once it has been accounted, it is visible to the client on their online service. « SPG or RYTZ’s client will also have the pdf version of his invoice as we have a tried and tested Electronic Document Management (EDM) system integrated with the online system, it is a small plus which differentiates us from the majority of our competitors and partners », adds Mr. Buzzi. Clients connected to the online system therefore have the ability to consult without delay all the accounting documents relating to receipts as well as expenses. As a consequence, the client can continually be aware of the performance of their property(ies). In addition to a clear view of the financial state of their property portfolio, the client may give themselves a more general idea by reviewing their contracts, for example concerning insurance or maintenance policies.

Anticipate and plan ahead « Thanks to this excellent overview, the client may anticipate and plan ahead, for example their investments or future work, explains Mr. Mullegg. The large majority of our clients ask for their access login for this service which they appreciate as they always feel more in touch with their manager. We have a client who consults their o n25.pdf 29.07.2009 09:03:25 accounts murner almost every day. » ■

online

Learn more Owners, to access SPG’s multimedia platform, visit https://online.spg.ch or https://online.rytz.com for RYTZ & CIE S.A. You can also access the platforms directly through the companies’ websites, on their home page.

Advertising

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

23


Immorama

64760_spgp_immorama_p13-55 cor:Mise en page 1

7.2.2008

16:01

Page 27

ENTREPRISE DE NETTOYAGE NETTOYAGE M.  NOYA NOYA 6, rue rue des des Eaux-Vives Eaux-Vives 6, 1207 Genève 1207

Tél.022 022 736 736 23 23 05 Tél. 05 Fax022 022 736 736 24 24 70 Fax 70 Natel079 079 203 203 67 55 Natel

saniferblanterie n29_modif.pdf 01/07/2011 09:33:46

SaniFerblanterie

ARTISANS ASSOCIÉS S.à r.l.

Rue de Lyon 114 c 1203 Genève T 079 409 16 79 E saniferblanterie@gmail.com

Gypserie - Peinture - Papier peint - Carrelage 24

- Automne 2012 - n° 31


You said tax haven ?

Immodossier

You said tax haven ? Immodossier N° 3 1 / A U T U M N 2 0 1 2

dossier

prepared by Thierry Oppikofer and Christine Esseiva

YOU SAID ort

Rep to 36 PP. 25

TAX HAVEN ?

, r for partne -RYTZ media the SPG ning of s Office the ope up Sale te Gro Real Esta sanne in Lau

REAL ESTATE OFFERS : TO RENT / FOR SALE PP. 55 to 97

You said tax haven ?

dossier

by Thierry Oppikofer

I

n this work Comment parler des lieux où l’on n’a pas été ? (How do you talk about places you haven’t been ?) (Ed. de Minuit), the writer and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard conjures up the « dream countries » imagined by « armchair travellers » such as Chateaubriand or Karl May for the United States, even Marco Polo for China. In short, these narrative geniuses have largely invented the descriptions of mysterious lands which have been imposed, little by little, in the minds of foreigners... and even the inhabitants of the countries concerned. The Americans have thus built, for the purposes of tourism, Indian villages coming more from the novel Winnetou by the German May than from the glorious past of the Redskins. In fact, the image that some of our neighbours have of Switzerland and its banking, financial and taxation system, sometimes appears to come from the same phenomenon. Tax haven, numbered accounts, exempt from tax, money laundering... the State governed by Swiss law, so concerned about legalism, if not ethics, and conforming to international standards, this State which is appearing to give in, even before it is forced to, remains suspect. Foreign ministers (at least two of which then fell for corruption) are dispensing far-fetched condemnations and unfounded accusations, while, from Washington to Berlin, via Rome and Paris, those in charge are saying they are convinced that the breathtaking deficits in their finances could only have resulted from the actions of shameless tax evaders and their Swiss accomplices. The Swiss negotiators and bankers are attempting to limit the damage and supply proof of their goodwill. How far will they go, how far have they already gone, and will that actually change the attitude of the dispensers of justice themselves concerned by the financial and tax practices sometimes difficult to explain ? Four specialists provide their illumination, from which a common sentiment appears : in the negotiations which are in full swing, Switzerland should not give in without obtaining compensation. It then remains to repair the damage done to the country’s image, victim of a true offensive in which the spirit of competition, fair or not, does not seem to be absent.

Readers, your opinion matters to us ! Would you like to respond to one of our articles ? Do you have any questions ? An area is reserved for you on our website www.immorama.ch, under the section « Respond to one of our articles », or send us an e-mail to redaction@immorama.ch. Comment and share www.immorama.ch

Read me in English. Click on www.immorama.ch

Answering our questions p. 26 Philippe Kenel Lawyer, Python & Peter Legal Practice, Geneva p. 27 Xavier Oberson Tax lawyer, Oberson Avocats p. 28 Flavien de Muralt Wealth Manager, co-founder of Swiss Respect, Geneva, p. 29 Paolo Bernasconi Former Prosecutor, Law Professor and lawyer, Lugano

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

25


Immodossier You said tax haven ?

1

Switzerland is not a tax haven, which would be highly reprehensible. The question is more whether our country is an attractive country or not on the taxation scale. The response is positive, as regards companies benefiting from a special status and taxpayers being taxed after expenditure.

2

Other countries offer better or similar benefits : Great Britain, Luxembourg and Singapore for legal entities, likewise the top two cited as Belgium and Monaco for individuals. Philippe Kenel Lawyer, Python & Peter Legal Practice Geneva

« There is less and less undeclared capital in Switzerland. »

3

There is an outright economic war and a series of threats soaring, especially on the financial centre of Geneva, more than that of Zurich. In fact, if the Rubik Agreement signed with Germany comes into force, my fear is that the FINMA (the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority), which is heavily influenced by Zurich, will demand that all the Swiss banks surrender not only the new, but also the old, undeclared European cash. If no Rubik Agreement is signed with France, this requirement will be catastrophic for the Genevan financial centre, as the banks would have to surrender the undeclared French money, while it would pose no problem for the Zurich financial centre, given that the situation regarding the undeclared German money would have been settled by the Rubik Agreement. Concerning companies, the pressure being exerted by the European Union on Switzerland is not admissible, in as much as the member States have only partially sorted out their own back-yard. Here and there, there remain systems that are very beneficial for companies and it is at the very least ill-advised to criticise Switzerland. I am thinking especially of the notional interests in Belgium and in Agency companies in Great Britain. Switzerland has two tools for economic promotion : the special statuses for companies and the lump sums for the rich resident foreigners without income-producing activity in Switzerland. Without these tools, Switzerland would indeed be less attractive, despite its serene landscape and political stability. These tools should therefore not be discarded, but reformed.

4 No, in as much as tax evaders will always come up with new methods. Nevertheless,

Questions

1

Do you think that Switzerland can, for any category of individuals or businesses, be described as a tax haven ?

2

Do you feel that other countries answer this description and, if applicable, which, and for which categories of taxpayers ?

3

Is there unfair international tax competition ?

4

Can tax fraud be fought objectively at a global level ?

5

What must Switzerland do to erase this incorrect image as a tax haven ?

6

If you were an extremely wealthy person, would you look to optimise your tax situation ? And how would you do it ?

26

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

the world is evolving and Switzerland must therefore adapt. However, it should not make any more concessions than the other States and should not give in without compensation. For example, the transition in the medium term to the automatic exchange of information with the EU is one solution, on condition of obtaining in return, as quickly as possible, the free circulation of financial services which the Swiss banks urgently need. The Rubik Agreements may govern the situation over a transitional period.

5

It is necessary for the personalities concerned, the owners, the thinkers and the bankers to get involved, to work hard. The too-frequent attitude summarised in the phrase : « Stop the world, I want to get off ! «  must be abandoned. We are living in the time of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, of open networks. Taboos have been pushed out, and to build on the process of extinguishing them, as is often done by banking or financial associations, makes no sense. We need advice which directly affects the population, not declarations formulated by smooth and polished presidents and general secretaries.

6

Of course. The error of the socialists, here as elsewhere, is to focus on the rich think for example of the initiative of the PSS (Swiss Socialist Party) on inheritance, whereas the workman or the housewife are also looking to pay less tax, as with everyone else. The most important thing is to do it legally. As to the rest, I recognise that there is less and less undeclared capital in the world, and that it is proving to be less and less easy to use it. Therefore, we must fight to keep the legal alternatives we have to attract the good taxpayers and businesses bringing investment. Why deprive ourselves of lump sum taxation, for example, because we judge in a faint-hearted and erroneous way that it is immoral ? Let’s reform it, by increasing the rates or by tightening up its conditions, but not abandon it. ■


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

1 Switzerland is not a tax haven, even according to the OECD criteria. According to this organisation, a haven is a country which does not possess any meaningful tax regimes, which is manifestly not the case with Switzerland. Certainly, certain characteristics of its regime present competitive benefits, for example for taxation on expenditure, or certain tax statuses relating to the taxation of businesses (holding status, auxiliary company status, etc.) However, comparable regimes are found in the majority of States, including the member countries of the OECD.

2 There are actually counties who correspond to this description and who are furthermore registered on an OECD list. Currently, there is a tendency to differentiate between what are called cooperative tax havens, that is, those who have undertaken to take part in procedures for the exchange of information, especially on the basis of the OECD model agreement for the exchange of information, and tax havens referred to a non-cooperative, who refuse such an exchange. To my knowledge, there are currently numerous cooperative tax havens and you can count on the fingers of one hand the list of non-cooperative tax havens.

3 Tax competition, as in all areas, is not harmful so long as it remains fair. It becomes unfair when a State attempts to attract to its territory activities or individuals who have no economic foothold. Certain States have resorted to this type of approach. These are mainly the (real) tax havens.

Xavier Oberson Tax lawyer, Oberson Avocats, Geneva

« Switzerland should defend its federalist model wholesale. »

4 This is an almost philosophical question. Can you fight behaviour that is deviant or noncompliant with the law at a global level ? This question is moreover linked with the objective and effective weighting of the tax on an individual or a business. From the moment when a State comes to a kind of fiscal strangulation on a company or a tax forfeiture on an individual without offering adequate services or infrastructure in return, it will be difficult to avoid the onset of certain tax fraud. In all cases, the current development of the global exchange of information, with more than 500 bilateral agreements dedicated to this question, is attempting to fight, more and more effectively, international tax fraud.

5

To erase its image as a tax haven, Switzerland should defend its federalist model wholesale, which is a balanced mixture, just and fair, of division of the tax burden between three institutions which are superimposed on one another : the Federation, the cantons and the communes. This system works well, is transparent and, by its structure and the democratic procedures in place, enables citizens to take part in its development as well as its evolution. I am often struck, during presentations abroad, by how little our neighbours know about the Swiss tax system. Likewise, discussions concentrate mainly on income tax and Switzerland’s potential favourable special features, and often forget wealth tax which is very heavy when compared internationally. Wealth tax is in fact unknown in the majority of States and an aberration for the Anglo-Saxon counties ! Finally, though, Switzerland is starting gradually to do it, it must automatically attract the attention towards the regimes that are comparable and sometimes more favourable than in some States who are in competition with us. In this regard, I am delighted to note that France is suddenly discovering that the majority of tax « exiles » do not on the whole go to Switzerland, but to London. It is true that the obscure status of « resident non domiciled », more favourable than our « lump sum taxation » is subtle and full of nuances...

6 As the Federal Court says, everyone has the right to organise their tax situation, completely legally, in such a way as to pay the least tax possible. That said, if I was an extremely rich person, I think that I would endeavour to use part of my fortune in the public interest, whether it be to encourage training, culture or the social environment in which we live. I think on one hand that a country’s tax system must enable a person to become rich in a proper way, but that once this state has been reached, this person has a moral duty to contribute to improve the general framework of the State that has enabled him to obtain this wealth, and also to improve the position of others, less fortunate. ■

Read our previous reports

>>> www.immorama.ch

Questions

1

Do you think that Switzerland can, for any category of individuals or businesses, be described as a tax haven ?

2

Do you feel that other countries answer this description and, if applicable, which, and for which categories of taxpayers ?

3

Is there unfair international tax competition ?

4

Can tax fraud be fought objectively at a global level ?

5

What must Switzerland do to erase this incorrect image as a tax haven ?

6

If you were an extremely wealthy person, would you look to optimise your tax situation ? And how would you do it  ?

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

27


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

1 Certainly not. Switzerland is a constitutional state, endowed with federal and cantonal tax regulations which you can, of your own free, will describe as better or worse than other countries. For certain categories of foreigners domiciled in this country, taxation on expenditure exists. This lump sum taxation is an asset to be preserved. For certain companies providing employment, there are also specific statuses. All this exists in other countries, and in a free world, if not to say liberal, there is nothing shocking in that, without being a haven, Switzerland is not a tax hell.

2 Let us say that there are known examples of countries exercising a more generous Flavien de Muralt Wealth Manager, co-founder of Swiss Respect, Geneva

« Switzerland is not a tax hell. »

taxation policy than ours, for all or some of their taxpayers. I will quote - this will no doubt surprise you - France, where some categories of investors from Qatar are exempt from any wealth and capital gains taxes, and we know that Qatari investments in the Hexagon are reaching considerable volumes. Another well-known example, the American state of Delaware, with its famous building « sheltering » 350,000 companies’ headquarters ! We could also bring up London, Singapore, Saint-Barts... This does not prevent anyone lecturing the Swiss.

3

This is the case, and it is also the meaning of Swiss Respect’s battle. We want to inform the population on the reality of the tax and ethical war conducted against Switzerland, from whom measures are required which are not enforced, or ever even contemplated, in the countries who demand them from us ! See the Austrian or Luxembourgian banking secret, or the facilities offered by Florida, Jersey, Guernsey and others who have undeclared funds. Switzerland manages a third of the global private wealth, and some, more powerful than it, are indeed counting on recovering these assets. If we take a position on the ethical scale, we remember that it is estimated that some 2% of American tax fraud would have been invested in Switzerland ; where is the remaining 98% ?

4 Tax fraud, a dishonest manoeuvre, must be fought. Tax evasion - oversight or negligence in the declaration to the tax authorities, keeping a nest egg abroad - appears entrenched in human nature. Switzerland should not have to give in to external pressures and abandon this distinction. This is the equivalent of criminalising the grocer who omits to produce a VAT receipt for a biscuit bought by a kid and then accusing his banker of receiving.

Questions

1

Do you think that Switzerland can, for any category of individuals or businesses, be described as a tax haven  ?

2

Do you feel that other countries answer this description and, if applicable, which, and for which categories of taxpayers  ?

3

Is there unfair international tax competition  ?

4

Can tax fraud be fought objectively at a global level  ?

5

What must Switzerland do to erase this incorrect image as a tax haven  ?

6

If you were an extremely wealthy person, would you look to optimise your tax situation ? And how would you do it  ?

28

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

5 Once again, we are supporting a fight on an ideological basis, and not ethical as we are claiming, against Switzerland. A small minority of the money concealed from the French or German tax authorities is apparently found in our country, but as the said country is small and rich and it is easy to put it under pressure, our near or far neighbours will have a field day. An example : why does Germany not pursue its millionaires who, to escape tax, have invested heavily in property in Spain, or in France, without declaring it ? To defend us, we should prepare and publish the maximum of texts, studies, documented blogs and briefs to re-establish the truth. The Swiss population is vaguely aware that attacks against the Swiss financial and economic centre are exaggerated ; it is important not to deny the errors made, but also to show that our country is not responsible for the debt crisis, nor the short-term crisis !

6 Optimise ? Of course ! Exactly as I do today : if I had millions in riches, I would entrust my tax declaration to a good accountant, so as to ensure that I do not pay a penny more than I have to and to advise me intelligently. I love my country and for me to consider tax exile, it would have to be if it wasted taxpayers’ money to buy aircraft carriers, or support or discredit dictators, for example. We are far from this today, and that is good. But I admit to understanding the singer Renaud, who has gone to London, and concur with the magnificent letter to François Hollande from Philippe Bouvard, who remains in France. It should be noted that the great Roger Federer keeps his home in Switzerland, specifically because this country’s management is sound. ■


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

1

For Swiss taxpayers, we never speak at all about a tax haven. Some even mentioned the phrase tax hell, especially in some very high tax cantons. Others, more objectively, may go as far as to cite the phrase tax purgatory. In fact, in several cantons, personal income tax, be it Swiss citizens or foreign citizens living in Switzerland and therefore subject to Swiss tax sovereignty, may reach or even exceed the 40%, taking into account the taxes due to the Federation, the canton and the commune of residence. For legal entities with headquarters in Switzerland, income tax is around 25%, taking into account the variations due to the cantons and the communes. To this must be added a very high tax, sometimes up to 60%, on the distribution of dividends by commercial companies.

Paolo Bernasconi Former Prosecutor, Law Professor and lawyer, Lugano

2

It is only for certain categories of taxpayers that we can talk of tax haven : these are foreign citizens resident in Switzerland and who do not carry out any business activity in our country, who benefit from taxation based on expenses (lump sum taxation) ; holding companies and administration companies who do not carry out any activity on Swiss territory also benefit from a preferential tax regime, which is currently the subject of quite close-fought negotiation with the OECD’s Tax Committee. In the lists, prepared by the OECD, of countries guaranteeing a tax regime defined as « harmful », we find not only Switzerland, but a whole series of other nations : apart from the European principalities, some American states must also be added, for example, such as Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, etc. Even worse, there are still numerous countries in the world who guarantee foreign citizens no tax or nominal taxation. It is interesting to note that with regard to these lands, neither the OECD, nor the European Union, nor the United States has taken any steps.

« The general public and bank customers are not aware of everything. »

3

In the diplomatic language of the OECD and the European Union, the term unfair competition is not used. They prefer to speak of « harmful tax regime ». In reality, even today, and especially in this period of the States’ indebtedness, we note a tendency towards protectionism, even in tax matters, which goes against the efforts of tax harmonisation implemented by the international organisations such as the OECD and the European Union.

4 I have been working in the sector for almost fifty years : over the decades, governments and tax administrations have promoted the fight against tax competition and against tax evasion. This was only make-believe. In reality, even the governments did not believe it. No later than from the G20 Summit of 2 April 2009 in London, the declaration of total war against tax evasion nevertheless ended up representing a paper tiger : the tax administrations hugely improved their investigation abilities, in particular thanks to the use of IT ; they obtained from the governments the necessary means and investigatory powers. They started to implement and strengthen the procedural methods which had been in existence for years and which had become obsolete. In practice, in particular with regard to banks and other financial intermediaries, charges are enforced in respect of collaboration or taking part in carrying out tax offences committed by taxpayers from different countries. The American tax administration has given examples which found very effective imitators, especially in Germany, France and in Italy. The novelty of these years is specifically represented by the fact that the global fight against tax evasion enables tremendous results regarding receipts to be obtained, even on the receipt of tax debts.

5

The focus is on the Swiss banking and finance system, at least since the start of the UBS business conducted by the American IRS : the criminal-tax proceedings are multiplying, especially in Germany, France and in Italy. They are all initiated against the financial intermediaries based in Switzerland, who are accused of having aided tax evasion by taxpayers outside Switzerland. From the G20

Read our previous reports

>>> www.immorama.ch

Questions

1

Do you think that Switzerland can, for any category of individuals or businesses, be described as a tax haven  ?

2

Do you feel that other countries answer this description and, if applicable, which, and for which categories of taxpayers  ?

3

Is there unfair international tax competition  ?

4

Can tax fraud be fought objectively at a global level  ?

5

What must Switzerland do to erase this incorrect image as a tax haven  ?

6

If you were an extremely wealthy person, would you look to optimise your tax situation ? And how would you do it  ?

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

29


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

web+ Questions

1

Do you think that Switzerland can, for any category of individuals or businesses, be described as a tax haven  ?

2

Do you feel that other countries answer this description and, if applicable, which, and for which categories of taxpayers  ?

3

Is there unfair international tax competition  ?

4

Can tax fraud be fought objectively at a global level  ?

5

What must Switzerland do to erase this incorrect image as a tax haven  ?

6

If you were an extremely wealthy person, would you look to optimise your tax situation ? And how would you do it  ?

30

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

of April 2009, the Swiss legal system was totally disrupted : the Swiss Parliament ratified the double-taxation agreements with very broad clauses for exchange of information, going as far as tax evasion, with forty countries. The Chambers have already ratified the Schengen Agreement (in December 2004), with standards which facilitate international cooperation in tax matters, the Agreement with the European Union against tax fraud and the PAYE tax agreement. Next year, the Swiss Parliament will codify in international law the recommendation adopted on 16 February 2012 by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), OECD’s specialised anti-money laundering agency, which provides the option of punishing the laundering of inherited assets which have been the subject of serious tax offences. All the foreign authorities benefit widely from these new investigation options provided by Swiss law and by the international agreements ratified by Switzerland. The general public and even their customers are not aware of this. I remember having held a conference at the Swiss Embassy in Paris, several weeks ago, in front of fifty legal and tax providers, in an ambience which could be described as polite hostility, which was partially mellowed as it went along as I was able to explain the significant progress made in Swiss law and by the Swiss authorities in the direction desired by the OECD and by the international community.

6

For companies and taxpayers, rich or less rich, we recommend that it is wise to identify their tax risk and minimise it. To cancel it, it is simply necessary to face up to the legal obligations. Obviously, the large multinational companies, as well as families who can demonstrate an actual legal residential status in different countries, may try to cheat the tax authorities. The risk of ending up in the sights of the tax authority and the criminal authority gradually increases. In jurisdictions which, currently, would be still available to ensure tax privileges, we are exposed to damages of another kind, linked to their legal insecurity. ■


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

Until recently, there was hardly any press favouring the left and a handful of militants to expose tax havens and their destructive impact on the United Kingdom’s finances. But times are changing. On 30 June this year, the Times scored a major coup. This newspaper favouring the right revealed that one of the most popular comedians in the country was avoiding income tax, thanks to a company registered in the Channel Island of Jersey. Jimmy Carr was having the income generated from his shows, sale of his DVDs etc. paid into a trust called K2 which paid the money back to him in the form of a loan. In other times, these revelations would have been insignificant. Jimmy Carr had, moreover, not broken the law - the K2 scheme had been approved by Her Majesty’s tax department (HMRC). But the British have been suffering for over a year from drastic austerity measures and the privileges which the rich and powerful grant themselves are being less and less tolerated. « Since 2010 and the campaign led by the organisation UK Uncut against the large companies guilty of tax evasion, the population’s support for the fight against these practices has grown », confirmed John Christensen at the head of Tax Justice Network.

The British are tightening the screw By Amandine Alexandre London

« In other words, Jersey has one company for every three inhabitants. »

Result: in a few hours, the Times’ scoop had been covered by all the media and transformed into a resounding scandal. To the point where the Prime Minister, David Cameron, denounced Jimmy Carr’s actions as being « morally wrong ». The comedian, firstly on the defensive, ended up by apologising profusely. And, while they were at it, the tax authorities announced that an enquiry was underway on the famous accounting company K2, domiciled in Jersey.

rld Tou o W

r

Jersey, « One of the prime global financial centres » Today, on Jersey, no-one wants to talk about the Carr business. But it cannot be denied that the excessive reactions in London to the Times’ revelations have really irritated those in charge of the Island which only depends on the United Kingdom for security, defence and foreign policy. David Cameron’s reproachful words and the growing interest by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in tax evasion are disagreeable. According to official figures, thirty-two thousand companies would be domiciled in this dependency of the British Crown. In other words, Jersey has one company for every three inhabitants. Nevertheless, the Channel Island is not considered as a tax haven, but as « One of the prime global financial centres ». And, in Saint-Helier, London’s remonstrations are viewed as hypocritical. In a remark made online on 25 June, the Managing Director of Jersey Finance, the body responsible for promoting the island’s financial services, recalled that « the creation, promotion and approval of tax avoidance schemes which have recently been questioned in the media have taken place in the United Kingdom ». Translation: London just needs to put its own house in order. Tensions between Jersey and the United Kingdom reached a peak on 27 June. The Island’s Deputy Minister, Philip Bailhache, declared that Jersey was « ready to become independent », after five years of difficult relations. Twenty-four hours later, this declaration was moderated by the Head of Government, acknowledging that the political and legal stability granted by the United Kingdom was very important for the finance industry. Nevertheless, Jersey remains on guard. Last year, the island was forced by the British courts to put an end to a scheme which allowed the major brands (Amazon, Tesco, HMV, etc.) domiciled on the island to avoid VAT on goods sold to the United Kingdom. « The British Treasury acted at Brussels’ request, explains Christensen, pioneer of the fight against tax avoidance and a native of Jersey. The authorities in Jersey are not frightened of London. It’s the European Commission which worries them. » ■

Read me in English. Click on www.immorama.ch

After our local report, we are offering you a world tour of tax practices, from Belgium to the United States, via Mauritius and England. To read the contributions by all our correspondents, we invited you to refer to our immoweb+ on www.immorama.ch. Bon voyage ! Report produced by Christine Esseiva

web+ Amérique Spain Canada France Japan

Belgium Continent africain Germany Mexico Pacific

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

31


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

American schizophrenia By Charlotte Alix United States

« Because the United States is an ideal destination to escape to... for tax purposes. » Towards international tax reform ? Will the economic crisis be the start of an unexpected effort in respect of the fight against tax evasion ? While many States are looking to refill their coffers, governments are viewing the staggering sums which are avoiding being taxed every year. According to Global Financial Integrity, more than 10,000 billion dollars would have been deposited in tax havens. The United States’ tax departments confirm that 330 billion dollars avoid tax each year (16% of federal taxes !). On its side, the European Union estimates that the loss of earnings for all its members is between 2 and 2.5% of GDP. If the United States manages to implement it, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act may well become the most ambitious legislation for the fight against tax evasion. For some months, several countries have been attempting to negotiate with the American Government in this regard. It is the case of the five « greats » of the OECD - Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom - who are agreeing to collaborate with the American tax authorities, but on a reciprocal basis. Thus, the local tax authorities will collect bank data from their banks, and the American tax authorities will do the same with the citizens of these countries. Switzerland and Japan are also in negotiation with the United States about the FATCA. These two counties are however in favour of another draft agreement: the information will not be exchanged via a central State database, but provided directly by the financial institutions, in return for some relaxations (especially concerning the identification of « uncooperative » customers). Admittedly, the implementation of the FATCA legislation will not be easy, but for many experts, it is a step in the right direction. An advance made possible by a change in attitude within governments. The OECD, in a report published in June 2012, moreover noted growing membership to a system for the automatic exchange of tax information.

32

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

« Do as I say, not as I do. » This popular adage may be applied to the United States in respect of tax fraud. For if Barack Obama never ceases to vilify his compatriots living abroad - henceforth all presumed guilty of tax evasion - several American States have such accommodating legislation that they may easily be described as tax havens. American taxation is surprisingly unusual in that it is extraterritorial ; no matter where they are, US citizens are required to declare their income to the American tax authorities, the IRS. However, it is estimated that out of six million nonresident Americans, only 500,000 declare their income. In 2009, moreover, the phenomenon made the headlines : UBS was accused of aiding and abetting tax fraud with some of its American customers. The bank then acknowledged managing 19,000 undeclared American customer accounts in Switzerland (17 billion dollars). Following this scandal, the Obama administration produced legislation called FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), which requires foreign financial institutions to send the IRS information on the income and assets of American citizens. Foreign banks were asked to sign an agreement with the US tax authorities, by which they undertake to identify the American citizens and to send - with the latter’s agreement - a tax declaration by these persons. If the customer refuses, the institution is obliged to deduct a retention at source of 30% on their income or, more radically, to close the account. Published in March 2010, the FATCA was supposed to be gradually implemented from 1 January 2013. But it’s implementation is looking complicated, as it brings about structural reforms within the financial institutions involved. Above all, the FATCA conflicts with some local or European legislation in respect of the protection of personal data and banking secrecy. For the Swiss Banking Association (ASB), « in fine, this legislation may have an adverse effect on the American financial centre, as some institutions will decide to no longer serve American customers and to put an end to their dealings with the United States ». The ASB is denouncing extremely expensive legislation for the banks and appears sceptical regarding the fallout for the IRS. The Obama administration, being optimistic, thinks it will be able to reclaim 8 billion dollars in ten years. This American voluntarism in the fight against tax evasion however produces a sickly smile abroad. Because the United States is an ideal destination to escape to ... for tax purposes. Several states have in fact implemented very attractive tax legislation. Delaware is the most striking example. In addition to not taxing profits produced outside its territory, this tiny state (seven times smaller than Switzerland !) makes the creation of inactive companies and dummy companies possible. Delaware is indeed considered as an even more interesting alternative than the ‘classic’ tax havens. American companies wishing to reduce their tax only have to register there and transfer their profits there. Coca-Cola, Google, JP Morgan Chase and General Motors have filed their company name there. More than 900,000 legal entities are domiciled in Delaware (more than the number of inhabitants !), more than half of which are companies listed on the United States Stock Exchange and 63% of the 500 wealthiest in the countries. And what attracts large groups also attracts disreputable individuals. Timothy S. Durham, nicknamed the « Madoff of the Midwest », or even the Russian Viktor Bout, the celebrated arms trafficker, have addresses there. And it is not the only American state like this. Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming and Florida are also « particularly interesting » territories for forming dummy companies, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the surveillance and fraud suppression division of the American Treasury. In these States, banking secrecy is well guarded. Last year, the United States moreover occupied 5th place in the international classification of tax havens, produced by the Tax Justice Network. ■

>>> Follow us


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

Appearances are deceptive: Spain is not recorded on the OECD’s list of tax havens and Madrid has never been suspected of having any sympathy with tax evaders. Nevertheless, according to Diego Artacho, tax lawyer and partner with Rousaud Costas Duran, a prestigious partnership in Barcelona, Spain is an unconscious tax haven. In fact, the Iberian peninsula is a dream destination for foreign multinationals. In the mid 1990’s, the Aznar government created a tool to attract foreign capital: the ETVEs, holding entities for foreign investments. Inspired by the Dutch model of the BV, the ETVEs are only taxable in respect of investments made on Spanish territory. In practical terms, the profits from an ETVE produced abroad are not subject to tax. « With this scheme, numerous foreign companies established their holding company’s head office in Spain », explains Diego Artacho who, before being a lawyer, was a tax inspector. The problem is that the majority of these companies have no activity on Iberian soil. Officially, an ETVE is required to have « material and human resources to develop its activity ». But, in fact, there are no controls. Thus ExxonMobil Spain, the subsidiary of the American oil giant Exxon, produced almost 10 billion Euros’ profits between 2008 and 2009, without paying a single cent to Spain. In reality, the largest company in the world in stock market value has just one single employee in Spain, paid 44,000 Euros a year. The Madrid office is just a letter box where all the profits of the European subsidiaries are consolidated. The oil producer is not an isolated case: Vodafone, Hewlett-Packard, American Express and even General Mills have made Spain their tax haven. « Admittedly, this situation is legal but it is not normal that profits from these large companies are not taxed ! « Diego Artacho sounds off. The scheme has been misappropriated: « It was to attract foreign companies to create employment and wealth in Spain, which has absolutely not been the case. « For some months, the Spanish tax authorities have been denouncing these abuses but, for the moment, the Rajoy government, who nevertheless needs money, does not seem ready to change this tool. Some regions in the Basque Country and in Navarre, by their autonomous status, deduct taxes directly and therefore have a certain margin for manoeuvre in terms of taxation. Thus the Basque Country has set up a legal scheme which enables the very wealthy and in particular high-profile sportsmen to pay very low taxes. The cyclist Miguel Indurain and the golfer José Maria Olazábal, both originally from the Basque Country, have profited from this, « completely legally », explains Diego Artacho. But two years ago, the tennis player Rafael Nadal was accused of having laundered 56 million Euros. The Majorcan had created a dummy company in San Sebastian to avoid taxes. Not having any link with the Basque Country, he has since been obliged to normalise his situation.

Spain, an unconscious tax haven By Henry de Laguérie Spain

« In reality, the largest company in the world in stock market value has just one single employee in Spain. »

Envied neighbours Spain is also neighbour to two very different tax havens: Andorra and Gibraltar. The small principality, nestled in the heart of the Pyrenees, is no longer on the OECD’s list of tax havens since 2010. « Under pressure from Nicolas Sarkozy, Andorra has made real progress », acknowledges Jean Maerckaert, specialist in tax havens and member of the NGO Sherpa. It signed agreements for the exchange of information with twenty countries, including France and Spain. It has also introduced VAT of 4% and income tax of 10%. Another significant advance for Diego Artacho : from now on, the law is punishing tax offences. But Andorra still has a way to go, according to Jean Maerckaert. Andorra’s financial opacity index remains high at 73%. In Gibraltar, in the south of the peninsula, no progress has been made. The tiny British territory is the haven for trusts, offshore banks and online gaming companies, emphasises Jean Maerckaert. A satellite of London and the City, Gibraltar has a law allowing the setting up of offshore banks. Regarding companies, they are exempted from taxes on profits not coming from local commerce for a minimum of 25 years. Consequently, there are 30,000 inhabitants for 80,000 companies on the British rock. Today, Gibraltar remains one of the largest tax havens in the world. But Spain does not have the means to fight against this nuisance neighbour: Madrid does not recognise Gibraltar and therefore cannot sign any agreement for the exchange of information with a territory on which it is claiming sovereignty. ■

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

33


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

Canada, springboard to offshore havens By Isabelle Paré Canada

« The Toronto Stock Exchange helped itself, as main shareholder, to the Bermudan Stock Exchange. »

On the international scene, Canada looks like the good student in respect of the fight against tax evasion. With agreements signed with eighty-seven countries, including eight agreed with tax havens well known for being sought by tax evaders and companies seeking to hide from the tax authorities, the country is showing its credentials. Indeed, if Canada ranks twenty-fourth in the world on the financial secrecy scale - a very enviable score, established by the international Tax Justice Network - , its first class record conceals, however, a completely different reality. Since the New-France era, Canada has developed favoured relationships with several of the Antilles islands, today having the finger pointed at it by the G20 and several of the world’s Finance Ministers. Over the years, banking networks in Canada and several Caribbean countries have become more and more interwoven, to develop relationships which some describe today as dangerous liaisons. For all these historic reasons, the Canadian banks have been proliferating for almost two centuries under the tropical sun. These single-leaved subsidiaries moreover occupy complete avenues in the Bahamas and in the Cayman Islands. Osmosis was pushed a notch further, in December 2011, when the Toronto Stock Exchange helped itself, as main shareholder, to the Bermudan Stock Exchange. Since 1980, an agreement for the non-disclosure of banking information made between Canada and Barbados spearheaded the creation of trusts and the development of Canadian companies in the Caribbean. « Since then, any citizen or Canadian company having assets there may transfer sums to Canada without paying taxes », explains Alain Deneault, author of Offshore, Paradis fiscaux et souveraineté criminelle (Offshore, Tax Havens and Criminal Sovereignty) and researcher in globalisation, citizenship and democracy at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). This Canadian presence in the court of the worst gamblers is moreover not very appreciated by public opinion. But in spite of recent pressure from the OECD to tighten the vice on the States of convenience, the « offshorisation » movement of companies based in Canada seems to rather have the wind in its sails. In 2011, « Exchange of Information » treaties were ratified with eight countries with almost zero rates of taxation, including Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Indeed, these agreements mainly designed to pierce the wall of secrecy were signed in exchange for guarantees enabling the repatriation, completely tax free, of Canadian assets held in these jurisdictions. In appearance, Canada is looking to monitor financial villains, but is legalising a process of tax avoidance already in operation, submits the researcher from the UQAM. The sums thus misappropriated from the tax authorities to the tax havens deprive the Canadian Tax Agency of some 147 billion dollars, according to Statistique Canada. And this massive leak of capital seems to want to gather pace since the election, in 2006, of the conservative government headed by Stephen Harper. This government on the right has, since its arrival, multiplied the power of its policies specifically aiming to make Canada a regulatory Eden for mining companies. Generous tax credits, a highly speculative stock exchange on mining products, and, besides, a gilded springboard offered to a dozen offshore havens: not surprising that two thirds of mining companies are today based in Canada ! In fact, Canada is today setting itself up as the cog in the legal and favoured transmission of numerous industries towards havens with accommodating taxation. Should it be surprising that some advisers specialising in the creation of offshore companies place the Canadian Federation among the favoured jurisdictions for their clients? « Canada is perhaps not an offshore country, but it has become one of the trading hubs for transfers of capital towards several tax havens », assures Alain Deneault. ■

34

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

« Patriotism means serving your country (...) Patriotism is not fleeing France for tax havens and leaving those remaining to bear the brunt of the effort. » Thus France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared war on tax evaders and exiles. It was 3 July, during his official address on general policy. No-one knows if the intentions will be followed by effect, but the message is clear: when the public debt reaches 90% of the national wealth, the French Government will make the fight against tax evasion a priority. If they acknowledge they are having difficulty deciding on a figure, the senators who are members of a commission of enquiry into tax evasion assess the loss of earnings at more than 50 billion Euros per year, this being « at least the amount of the interest repayments on the French debt each year ». Created in January with the purpose of « better understanding » the phenomenon, the commission has been to Switzerland, Jersey and Belgium, and has conducted numerous hearings - the ex tennis-players Yannick Noah and Guy Forget, who lived or live in the Genevan region, have in particular been heard. In their report published at the end of July, the senators put forward fifty proposals, among which was the creation of a High Commission responsible for coordinating the fight against tax evasion and the duty for the French multinationals to send a full balance sheet of their entities abroad. « Above all, finishes the communist senator Eric Bocquet, the Commission’s reporter, the response must be international: it must aim to improve the European Directive on ‘savings’. »

Tax evasion to make up the national debt By Chloé Aeberhardt France

« Patriotism is not fleeing France for tax havens. »

Initiated in 2005, this text defines the automatic exchange of bank details between States. Problem : it only applies to savings interest (and not to dividends) and does not affect offshore accounts belonging to Europeans via non-European dummy companies. For four years, Brussels has been trying to amend it, but Austria and Luxembourg, bound to banking secrecy, are blocking the negotiations. On its side, Switzerland is multiplying the bilateral agreements. With « Rubik », it undertakes to repay to partner States the unpaid taxes by their nationals having funds in its banks. In compensation, the names of the account holder remain secret. Great Britain and Austria have already signed this agreement. France is refusing at the moment. « We consider Rubik to be an attack by the Swiss against the European Directive », explains Eric Bocquet, for whom the agreement is returning to a « tax amnesty ». Gabriel Zucman, researcher at the Paris School of Economics and author of a study on tax evasion, does not say otherwise : « Some Swiss bankers are terrorised at the idea of being assessed for the automatic exchange of information. To avoid it, they are setting the members of the European Union against each other: on the one side, Brussels and the « savings » directive; on the other, Great Britain and Austria (perhaps soon Germany and Italy), seduced by the prospect of the quick return of money. Nevertheless, the Rubik agreement risks not being to their advantage: in as much as they are unaware of the exact amount of wealth managed by the Swiss bankers, they are leaving it more or less to their goodwill. » Dissolved this Summer, the senatorial committee even expects « to include tax fraud and evasion in a parliamentary debate » in the Autumn. « It is a major political axis on which the Government is going to have to work », assess the senators. The draft amended law on finances for 2012 adopted by the Parliament at the end of July is a start; it provides five measures limiting the options for tax optimisation abroad for companies, among which is the « reversal of the burden of proof »: in future, every company will have to show that its subsidiaries established in tax havens are carrying out an actual activity there - in short, that they are not simply « letterboxes » enabling the reduction of profit taxable in France. ■

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

35


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

The relentless fight against tax havens By Rachel Garcia

The heavily subsidised tax havens By Rachel Garcia

With the discovery of more than 32 trillion dollars of financial assets held in offshore accounts, the fight against the abusive exemption from taxes is finally starting to bear fruit. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Tax Justice Network (TJN) are at the forefront of the fight. “We are more than ever aware of the costs of economic inequality” James Henry, Senior Adviser for the Tax Justice Network (TJN). « There are more than 32 trillion dollars of financial assets held in offshore accounts. » These are the findings of the economist James Henry, Senior Adviser for the Tax Justice Network (TJN), in his latest report on tax havens. Published on 22 July 2012, the study stirs up a worldwide concern for tax evasion, born out of the 2009 financial crisis. As with his counterparts in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), James Henry is worried about seeing billions evading the tax authorities of the various nations. Above all in the era of an unprecedented global economic crisis : « These conclusions arise at the time when the whole world’s governments are deprived of resources, and we are more than ever aware of the costs of economic inequality », he laments.

OECD with weapons More than the TJN, which is a network of associations and individuals, the OECD is in the front line of combat against tax havens. With 34 members - including Switzerland - this international organisation fights for global economic development. So as to deter the trend towards tax evasion as much as possible, it puts pressure on governments, especially through two main criteria enabling it to identify a tax haven: the absence of transparency in the tax regime and the absence of exchanges of tax information with other States. To be transparent, the country’s tax legislation must appear open and fair to their citizens. In fact, it often happens in tax havens that two people profiting from similar economic situations are not taxed in the same way. The second criterion, i.e. the exchanges of information with other States, is also a recurring problem in tax havens. Following the example of banking secrecy in Switzerland, which enabled the protection of thousands of offshore accounts up to 2009, the time when the controversy came out into the open.

The OECD’s grey list Published in January 2011, the latest grey list of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) saw the arrival of several newcomers. Recently disappeared from the blacklist, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands, Montserrat, Nauru, Niue, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Vanuatu, all names and places little known on the international scene, which have finally bowed to pressure from the global organisation. The OECD’s blacklist has moreover been empty since that date.

The Swiss SP is joining the fight Far from leaving the ground solely to the international organisations, the Swiss Socialist Party (SP) wants to do away with tax evasion. At a federal level, as in the cantonal rankings, the elected representatives are multiplying their initiatives aimed at minimising the tax relief granted to wealthy companies and individuals : « This money is stolen from the populations of its country of origin », Romain de Sainte Marie, President of the Genevan SP is indignant about it. « But in addition, these receipts do not even benefit the local Swiss population ! »

36

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

A network of iron The Tax Justice Network fights against tax evasion indirectly. Made up from civilians, researchers, journalists, development specialists, politicians and even concerned businessmen, the TJN operates by organising activists for the fight against tax evasion. Its mission? To promote social change through public debate and education. In short, it is aiming for better overall understanding of tax issues. Information, its main weapon in combat, enables it to publicly stress the contradictions which reign between the standards imposed by the OECD and those applied by governments. In this vein, it published a newsletter in October 2011 denouncing the desertion by Switzerland regarding the non-member countries of the OECD. In fact, the poorest nations are completely absent from the tax agreements with the Federation.

Heavily subsidised tax evasion These paradoxes enable the governments of the tax havens on the grey list (see box), but also on the white list, to benefit from loopholes allowing them to exempt their wealthy foreign clients from taxes. But the fighters have not spoken their last word: “It is time for governments to live up to their promises and to implement policies enabling the situation to be kept under control”, declares James Henry, at the time his study was published. “But in some ways, this research is very good news. The world is just isolating a pile of financial wealth which may be sought in order to contribute to the solution of our most pressing global issues. “The fight has only just begun. ■

>>> Follow us


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

Japan does not appear in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) classification of tax havens. But this list, which has served as a reference since the G20 in 2009, is much criticised by the « Tax Justice Network », an international network of experts and specialist researchers in tax justice. It charges the OECD with « focussing too much on the tax issue » and putting into second place what seems to it to be essential: transparency. At the end of 2011, the Tax Justice Network therefore published its own award-winning list of countries which combined the best conditions to « obscure international tax evasion ». According to its criteria, Japan is the 8 th most opaque country. What must one conclude about the world’s third largest power ?

Japan, a culturally secret country

The OECD recognises four criteria in its definition of a tax haven: the country having a low rate of tax, laws or administrative practices which will prevent an exchange of information with foreign administrations, an absence of practical activities to attract external capital and finally a lack of obvious transparency.

precisely the point censured

By Johann Fleuri

« The issue of opacity is by the Tax Justice Network. »

For companies, Japan within the international standard. For companies, « Japan is within the international standard, indeed, in the upper bracket, explains Julien Ghata, Senior Manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata in Tokyo. If the actual tax rate has recently reduced from 40.69% to 38.01% and must reduce again in 2015 by more than 3%, it remains high. » Yoichi Murata, a Japanese Private Banker settled in Switzerland, confirms : « Taxes are very high in Japan : for taxes but also for inheritance dues. « Japanese VAT » is somewhat high, explains Julien Ghata. It is currently 5% and must rise to 10% over the coming years. « Daisuke Sato, Director of a Marketing Advice Company for Japanese SMEs in Europe, goes further : « If you compare it with that of the European countries, Japanese VAT is indeed too low. The multinational firms profit from this rate to clear profits and repatriate their funds into offshore companies to avoid Japanese tax. » High or increasing taxes but also facilities for foreign capital. Japan is still far from the definition of a tax haven set by the OECD. « Since the government of Prime Minister Koizumi, the Japanese Government has initiated a policy of seducing foreign investors to Japan », continues Daisuke Sato. In 1986, the Japanese archipelago created the Japan Offshore Market with the aim of attracting capital. Four years after its creation, i.e. in 1990, the latter represented a total of 495 billion dollars according to figures from the Bank for International Settlements. On the other side of the coin, if they are attracting foreign capital, these offshore centres have been acknowledged to be destabilising the global financial system, as they are subject to very broad banking secrecy. The issue of opacity is precisely the point censored by the Tax Justice Network. It is a fact : Japan « prefers to keep information internally, continues Julien Ghata. It is, above all, cultural. Even if that presents a poor image from an international point of view. The exchange of information between countries is nevertheless fundamental in terms of tax transparency. » In respect of communication, the Japanese archipelago still has a way to go. « Japan is a unique country which may be perceived as being difficult to access by other countries, assures Yoichi Murata. This lack of understanding and lack of cooperation contribute without a doubt to letting this feeling persist. » Julien Ghata willingly recognises that the country « is making efforts to that level, in particular with the roll-out of the FATCA ». The FATCA, the « Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act », is an agreement with the United States for the automatic transmission of data on American citizens having bank accounts outside the United States. It must be implemented with effect from 1 February 2013 and enables the fight against international tax evasion. In compensation, the United States will return the same to the countries which have signed the agreement. Japan has already added its signature, last June. ■

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

Rubik, the Swiss counter-attack By Isabelle Ory European Parliament, Brussels

« Swiss banks are admittedly becoming less financially attractive for foreign customers, but at the same time the anonymity of its customers is preserved. »

It is a tug of war which has lasted for several years between the European Union and Switzerland. Bern refuses to throw in the towel and completely relinquish its banking secrecy. On the other hand, the majority of Europeans are in favour of the automatic exchange of information, that is, the automatic transmission of data of the holders of bank accounts to the tax administration of their home country. In this war, which has lasted since the end of the 1990s, Switzerland is going to win a battle, via the updating of the Rubik agreements. Return to a muffled conflict but in which the stakes are counted in billions of francs.

What is the European Union’s position ? On their territory, the Europeans apply the European Tax Savings Directive, a European law which came into force in 2005. It provides for the automatic exchange of information between all countries in the EU, with the exception of Luxembourg and Austria. These two States wanted to retain their banking secrecy. As with Switzerland, who has agreed to apply this directive, they are replacing the exchange of information with an anonymous retention of tax at source. A retention which amounts to 35% of savings interest. Recently, pressure mounting yet again on banking secrecy at an international level via the G20 injunctions, the European Commission wanted to revise this law so that it applies to more savings products and to force Luxembourg and Austria to give up banking secrecy. However, these discussions are dragging on between the European Union countries, who must agree unanimously on this subject. The Luxembourgers and the Austrians refuse to let go so long as the Swiss are not also relinquishing banking secrecy.

The Swiss counter-attack Confronted with this offensive, Swiss bankers are taking the lead. They have convinced the Federal Council of the necessity to defend banking secrecy, proposing an alternative plan. It is better known by the name of Rubik. In practical terms, the Swiss are cleverly spreading discord between the States of the European Union by finalising bilateral agreements with Germany and the United Kingdom, then with Austria. These agreements extend the system of retention of tax at source to a large range of savings products. They are also settling the past, i.e. the money deposited illegally in Swiss banks, via tax paid once on all assets. Finally, this means a net return of money for the budget of the countries concerned, a not negligible detail when Europe is passing through a serious economic crisis. Swiss banks are admittedly becoming less financially attractive for foreign customers, but at the same time the anonymity of its customers is preserved.

Where are we ? The Rubik agreements must come into force on 1st January 2013, but they have still not been ratified in Great Britain and in Germany. Beyond the Rhine, they are coming up with strong opposition from the social democrats. The SPD is specifically objecting to one of the details in the text, that is that Germany will no longer have the right to buy information on customers of Swiss banks as it has been doing even very recently. However, other countries, such as Greece and Italy, and even Spain, whose finances are in a sorry state, are in the process of negotiating or are planning to negotiate similar agreements. The Rubik agreements may therefore be reproducing. The Federation’s objective is to bring them into widespread use for the 27. But for the time being, the Brussels Commission has not entered into the subject. Firstly, because it wants to be the fervent defender of transparency and opposer of banking secrecy. But above all because it does not have authority to negotiate in the name of the European Union, it remains paralysed by the inflexible opposition of Luxembourg and Austria. An opposition which for the moment leaves Switzerland a free field in response to a Europe weakened by the deepest economic crisis in its history. ■

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

Which country is attracting the largest number of French seeking tax exile ? Switzerland ? No ! If you believe the official figures from the French Government, it is Belgium ! According to a report published in 2009, while 129 very wealthy taxpayers settled in the Federation, 132 took the route to the Kingdom of Belgium. The arrival of power from the left in the Hexagon also increased the number of candidates interested in moving to this country of 11 million inhabitants. « Above seven million in capital, I advise expatriation to Switzerland, explains lawyer Philippe Kenel, who works in Lausanne as well as in Brussels. Under this bar, Belgium is interesting. » Despite its not very cheer ful climate, despite its serious governmental instability, Belgium remains a tax haven in the eyes of many. A surprising and unusual phenomenon, as it is not linked with the existence of banking secrecy, but more with an original tax policy.

Belgium, a tax haven like the others ! By Isabelle Ory Belgium

« Significant capital gains will certainly not be taxed on the profits made ! »

Admittedly, for decades, Belgium was one of the rare countries with banking secrecy in the European Union. As with Switzerland, it refused to communicate information on the holders of accounts open in its banks. But in 2009, under pressure from the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe (OECD), Brussels decided to relinquish and to move to the automatic exchange of information, a measure which has been effective since 1 January 2010. Therefore it is no longer this which makes it so seductive for wealthy foreigners. Its benefits are from now on to be found in the Belgian government’s tax choices. Income from work is heavily taxed in the Kingdom of Belgium, employees being subject to one of the heaviest tax pressures in Europe; on the other hand, income from capital is very widely saved, to the great satisfaction of those whose lifestyle depends on capital.

Untaxed profits First and foremost, wealth tax does not exist. Then, capital gains are no longer taxed. In short, a businessman who sells a company and achieves significant capital gains in relation to his initial investment, or an individual who sells his shares, will certainly not be taxed on the profit achieved ! It is one of the aspects of Belgian taxation most often quoted by those who have chosen to settle in the flat country. Finally, authors’ rights and income from savings as well as dividends are taxed on a fixed basis, via a deduction at source varying between 15 and 21%. A much more favourable regime than may be practised in other neighbouring countries. « Whether the dividends received amount to 1,000 Euros or 100,000 Euros, the same rate will be applicable. It is not considered overall with other income », explains Olivier Bertin on the website Droit-fiscalité-Belge (www.droit-fiscalitebelge.com). Tax on capital is absolutely not progressive. The main difference between Switzerland and Belgium lies in the fact that this beneficial taxation for the most affluent taxpayers has not been developed specifically for foreigners, it applies to all citizens living in the territory. Therefore there is no offset, such as those that accompany the lump-sum taxation in some cantons. « I chose Belgium rather than Switzerland, as here I can continue to work, recounts Florian, an expatriate French businessman in Brussels. Furthermore, I have set up several companies here, which has enabled me to create thirty jobs. » Belgium remains, therefore, an outright haven for a certain category of taxpayers. However, this status may be threatened in the years to come. Confronted by the economic crisis and the need to find extra income, Brussels anticipates gradually increasing the weight of its taxation on capital. ■

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

The island of Mauritius, tax haven for the African continent By Sophie Bouillon Johannesburg, South Africa

The island of Mauritius, a dream destination with beaches of fine sand, is known as another paradise. That of its taxation. The creation of an offshore company on this island off the African coast only takes a few days and is not subject to any tax on capital gains or dividends. As a good tax haven, Mauritius will not divulge the identity of company operators. Just simply send a copy of your identity card, a bank reference and proof of address for one of the numerous intermediary agencies to deal with your case. In September 2010, the worldwide Forum on tax havens classified Mauritius among the « bad students ». Although the island undertook to make efforts in 2001, it is lacking elements in its legal framework to force companies to publish their accounts.

« A stable government. A representation of choice for a number of wealthy businessmen from the African continent. »

Situated between Africa and Asia, the island was colonised by the French and the British in turn. A huge asset for investors, which the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Xavier-Luc Duval, loves to recall : « Our government is stable, laws are enforced, and we are completely bilingual in English and French, the two languages most spoken in Africa, which enables us to be a dream destination for African investors. »

A stable government. A representation of choice for a number of wealthy businessmen from the African continent. To quote just a few examples, the political instability in Zimbabwe caused the country to succumb to uncontrollable inflation in 2005. Many companies were completely lost. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), rocked by war since 1996, no longer offers any solid guarantee of investments. African countries prone to chaos where, nevertheless, it is easy to get rich through the trafficking of arms, minerals or by corruption.

Last July, the island of Mauritius was subject to strikes by Global Witness. According to this NGO, the money from « blood diamonds », mined completely illegally by the Zimbabwean Government and Army, are lying quietly in accounts in the capital Port Louis. Another body for monitoring good governance, Conflict Awareness Project, denounced the creation of offshore companies in Mauritius which will serve to supply the conflicts on the continent. In February, the NGO revealed in its enquiry : Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, wanted to set up a dummy company to dispose of his stocks in the DRC and in Southern Sudan via American, English and South-African arms companies. Faced with international pressure, Mauritius retreated and finally would not let Bout create his company on its soil. The arms dealer was sentenced two months later to twenty-five years in jail by a judge in New York.

Pressure is mounting on Mauritius, the only African country classified as an « offshore financial centre » by the International Monetary Fund in 2007. In June, Xavier-Luc Duval invited a delegation of international journalists to show them the financial benefits of the island. It is in a niche market : « It is not because our tax laws are weak that we are coming to be considered as a tax haven. » Recalling the Bout case, he adds that the island is not looking to be a haven for dirty money from the continent. Besides, he recalls, « finance only represents 12% of our gross domestic product, behind our industrial production ! »

Nikhil Treebhoohun, Director of the Global Institutional Investors Forum (GIIF), a powerful financial lobby which defends the interests of the banks, companies and investment funds based in Mauritius, denounces the hypocrisy of the international financial institutions : « These are the same ones who pushed us to be a financial mediator between Europe, Asia and Africa and now that the countries in the North are in crisis, they accuse us of being a tax haven ! » ■

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

What will the tax obligations of German taxpayers holding an account in Switzerland be, from 1 January 2013 ? The tax cooperation agreement, known as Rubik, signed between Germany and Switzerland outlines a new deal... which has no shortage of critics. To be exempt from the rules of the German tax administration, dishonest German taxpayers deposit financial assets in countries which are not obliged to send information on their customers to the German tax administration. The publication in 2005 by the OECD of a draft agreement on the exchange of information relating to tax which is aiming at more transparency and international pressure led Switzerland to revise its rules regarding banking secrecy from 2009. In this trend towards the wider exchange of bank information between countries, the Rubik agreement - « deutsch-schweizerische Steuerabkommen » in German - signed on 21 September 2011 and finalised on 5 April 2012 by Switzerland and Germany, is offering an alternative route. If Rubik comes into force, German taxpayers holding accounts in Switzerland on 31 December 2012 will then have two options: to give themselves up to the German tax administration and pay them the back-taxes for the years prior to 31 December 2012, and for the future be taxed on the assets invested in Switzerland as for any asset invested in Germany. The second route, more controversial: account holders will retain their anonymity and the Swiss banks will undertake to pay the German tax administration a fixed tax of between 21 and 41% for the period preceding 31 December 2012. After this date, the German taxpayers may remain anonymous and pay the tax fixed at 24.6% on the assets invested in Switzerland through the banking body. « The amount of this tax retention for the future is equivalent to that paid by German taxpayers on assets invested in Germany », explains Rebeca Garcia, spokesperson for the Swiss Association of Bankers. The third route, not written into the agreement, but implied, is to close their account in Switzerland before 31 December 2012 and transfer their assets to another banking centre without payment for the past nor deductions in the future. « However, this seeks to maintain the unlawful situation  », explains Me. Jean-Frédéric Maraia, partner in the firm Schellenberg Wittmer and director of the LL. M. Tax of the University of Geneva, « and may in all likelihood expose the taxpayer to more severe penalties in the event of discovery by the tax authorities. » Although approved by the Swiss Federation’s Federal Assembly, the two documents signed with Germany were the subject of a referendum between 19 June and 27 September 2012. In Germany, the agreement cannot come into force without ratification by the Lower Chamber (the Bundestag) and the Higher Chamber (the Bundesrat) in which it is not Angela Merkel’s CDU-FDP but the SDP and the Greens who have the majority. Opponents of Rubik, headed by the former German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück (SDP), feel the scheme is too favourable to ex-tax evaders. The estimates on the billions which this scheme will identify, or not, to the German administration, and the discussions on their potential redistribution are causing much ink to flow in the German press. ■

FATCA : the new American requirements In parallel with the discussions opened by Switzerland on the exchange of banking information with Germany, Great Britain and Austria via the Rubik international agreements, Bern is also negotiating with the United States on the conditions of enforcement of the new American tax law (FATCA: Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) concerning the flow of information on the bank accounts of American taxpayers. From 1 January 2013, when an American taxpayer refuses for their information to be sent to the American tax administration, the bank must make a retention of 30% on all the income coming from the United States. A special feature for Switzerland: the exchange of information will be made directly between the banks and the American administration, without centralisation. The agreement involving situations in the past has not yet been reached.

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

German dilemma : which tax package to choose ? By Barbara Pasquier Germany

« Rubik’s opponents feel the scheme is too favourable to ex-tax evaders. »

Reference texts *Agreement of 21 September 2011 between the Swiss Federation and the Federal Republic of Germany concerning Cooperation relating to Taxation and Financial Markets. Protocol of 5 April 2012 relating to the amendment of the agreement between the Swiss Federation and the Federal Republic of Germany concerning Cooperation relating to Taxation and Financial Markets signed on 21 September 2011.

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

Mexico, the great money-laundering bazaar By Patrick John Buffe Mexico

Firstly, no-one thinks that Mexico should be included in the list of tax havens. And yet. ECLAC - the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean - does not hesitate to describe this member of the OECD as a « de facto tax haven » Why ? In the first place, because it is a country where taxpayers pay few taxes. Then, because it’s tax regime is such that it enables major tax evasion - thanks especially to corruption - and because it grants numerous tax exemptions.

« Money-laundering

In these terms, tax receipts do not exceed 11% of gross domestic product, while the average in Latin America is 18%. This, at a regional level, puts Mexico at the bottom of the scale. One of the reasons is to be found in tax evasion which represents 2% of the GDP annually !

which may amount annually to between 20 and 40 billion dollars. »

In addition these weaknesses on Mexico’s part regarding taxes, this country seems also to be converted into a reprocessing factory, in as much as it plays a significant role in the world of black market finance, and therefore laundering of capital coming mainly from illegal and criminal activities. Nothing surprising in that as it has become a strategic area for drug traffickers who control the drug routes. So that the American State Department considers its neighbour as one of the main countries for trafficking and the production of narcotics. We then understand why the drug cartels, who direct the illegal trade, are always economically more powerful. This is the case with the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquín « El Chapo » Guzmán, considered by the Forbes list as one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet ! The lack of information within the Mexican financial system, out-of-date legislation to fight against money-laundering and legal authorities only having a narrow margin for manoeuvre encourages drug traffickers to launder their income in Mexico. Laundering which may amount annually to between 20 and 40 billion dollars according to the American authorities. Sophisticated and well organised, these criminal organisations benefit from the advantage offered to them by the 3,000 kilometres of border between the two countries to move the money from the sale of drugs in the United States to Mexico. To do this, they use both the legal flow of dollars sent monthly by emigrants to their families and the high volume of trade between the two countries. But the majority of dollars sent back to Mexico are in cash. For the traffickers are fully aware that the use of cash makes the detection of dirty money and its laundering more complicated. And despite the measures taken by Mexico for the last two years to reduce the use of dollars in cash in banks and bureaux de change so as to prevent these transactions, the situation has hardly advanced. For the Mexican financial system is too easygoing. This is demonstrated by the denunciations made last July by the American Senate’s Commission of Enquiry. It accused HSBC bank of having, over the last decade, laundered billions of dollars, particularly through its subsidiary in Mexico. No matter than in 2007 and 2008, it had sent back - and recycled - to the United States some 7 billion dollars which had been deposited in the American branch of HSBC or other financial institutions. This previously laundered money was either transferred electronically, or conveyed in cash over the border. This activity was probably not the prerogative of one sole bank or one sole branch of the Mexican economy. It is even becoming so important that the researcher and specialist in the subject, Edgardo Buscaglia, does not hesitate to confirm that Mexico has changed into an « international bazaar » for money-laundering. He estimates that more than three quarters of the country’s economic sectors have been penetrated by organised crime - national and transnational - which is used as a basis for wealth ! One might as well say that Mexico has changed into a haven for... laundering dirty money ! ■

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


You said tax haven  ? Immodossier

Barely bigger than pinpricks on a map, the tax havens of the Pacific Ocean are often isolated, minuscule and. deprived. The Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands, Niue, Nauru and the Republic of Vanuatu appear on the « grey » list published by the OECD, the organisation which coordinates the fight against tax havens at a global level. Nevertheless, these islands are hardly frequented by the jet-set, do not line their streets with luxury boutiques and their quay-sides with billionaires’ yachts. These almost invisible lands, and more often unknown, have found in their conversion into offshore centres - as they could not claim to have become real financial platforms - the sole means of attracting capital. The Marshall Islands, used by the Americans to carry out nuclear testing after the Second World War until the 1960s, are almost totally dependent on foreign aid. Tourism and pearl culture enable the Cook Islands to do a bit better but their population, lacking work, must emigrate to New Zealand to which they are linked by a Free Association Agreement.

Pacific : the last treasure islands By Florence Decamp, Australia

« The tax havens of the Pacific may soon have to be content with being tropical paradises. »

It is also thanks to financial aid from New Zealand that the 1,300 inhabitants of the Island of Niue can survive. This constitutional monarchy of 269 km 2, established on a coral island, only exports stamps which although they delight stamp collectors, do not have much to do with Niue. The Republic of Nauru, which grew rich in the past from phosphate extraction, is today established on an island destroyed by an intensive mining operation. This very small State (21 km 2) was, a few years ago, converted into a prison for the boat people who were washed up on the Australian coast and whom Canberra did not wish to keep on its territory. Finally, the gorgeous archipelago of Vanuatu, although nominated on several occasions as the happiest nation on the planet by the British foundation New Economics, is also a poor country.

Less attractive tax havens Before becoming independent in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was an institutional landmark : The New Hebrides were a condominium where the French and the British shared the power. Today, it is the Australians who call the tune and they have decided to transform this tax haven into a financial nightmare for those of their fellow citizens who, for several years, had found the way to avoid the tax authorities. For, on Vanuatu, income tax, wealth tax and taxes on profits do not exist… After having been widely criticised for being too expensive and not efficient enough, Project Wickenby, launched in 2006 by the Australian Government to fight against tax evasion, finally bore fruit. In March 2012, the decision by the Federal Court to authorise access to investigating officers to more than 1,300 customer accounts of the Australian Bank ANZ in Vanuatu was a decisive victory. « There are less and less places to hide... The more honest Australians would not even dream of trying to evade the tax authorities and the others realise that there are more legitimate ways to invest their money », comments the Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo who led Project Wickenby. The figures speak for themselves : after 2,000 audits, 57 people convicted and 24 criminal investigations still underway, there are only 11% of the 2,621 Australian entitles which did business in Vanuatu still operating. Between 2008 and 2011, the money distributed throughout the thirteen main tax havens monitored by Project Wickenby started, for the first time, to return in Australia’s direction. Over the same period, the flow towards the offshore centres reduced by 22%. According to the Australian authorities, this corresponds to a gain of 17 billion Australian dollars for the country’s coffers. The tax havens of the Pacific may soon have to be content with being tropical paradises. ■

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -


Immodossier You said tax haven  ?

Switzerland – Germany, the dispute By David Philippot

« The tax war has been declared and curses are flying over the Alps. »

The tax war has been declared and curses are flying over the Alps. The “Indians”, the “organised band of criminals”, the “cavalry”: certain German political leaders use strong and not very diplomatic language regarding Switzerland. The fact merits being even more emphasised as Germany has taken great care since the Second World War to weigh its judgements on foreign countries, in contrast with the warlike rhetoric of the Nazis. But it is better to see that it is less of a German-Swiss dispute than a case of internal politics in Germany. On the left of the political scene - the social democrats (SDP) and the environmentalists (the Greens) - have discovered a key campaign theme in this period of crisis. Everything is explained by the strategy in view of the federal election in September 2013. For her re-election, the Chancellor can hardly count on the support of the liberal FDP party, credited with weak polls. To hope to keep control of the power, Angela Merkel is pulling the rug from under the feet of the left, by taking over its agenda: family policy, minimum wage. The right of the CDU’s electorate is moreover accusing it of making its spiel more to the left and losing sight of the conservative values with the ending of nuclear power or the reform of the army. In the left camp, the SDP has made the fight against tax evasion its warhorse, because it sees in this, a subject which differentiates it clearly from the CDU and the FDP. Since 2009, it has been the Finance Minister at the time, the social democrat Peer Steinbrück, candidate for leader of the SDP, who is sounding the charge. This year, the offensive started again with renewed vigour last Spring, in the heart of the electoral campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). A decisive battle in the most populated region in Germany which enabled the left to be assured of control of the Bundesrat. The support of the Parliament’s High Chamber is obligatory for the adoption of the doubletaxation treaty negotiated with Switzerland. There is almost no chance of this law passing the obstacle of the “Regional Chamber” in November: the opportunity is too good for the opposition to put a thorn in the side of the majority. This time, the initiative for the purchase of Swiss banking data reverted to the area’s Finance Minister, Norbert Walter-Borjans. He defines himself willingly as “Robin Hood” and assures he makes the distinction between the Swiss and their bankers, “who will be popping the champagne corks if the agreement is ratified”. The hard line against the tax agreement was profitable, the social democrat candidate having been comfortably elected in NRW, and the SDP hopes to repeat the same coup over next year’s legislation. However much the right, led by the Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a negotiator of the agreement ratified in 2011, called for reason, the electoral year is launched and all the arguments are good. But why such aggressiveness in the attacks exclusively conducted against a neighbour? A leader of the Christian-Democrat Party denounced an “ideological war favouring a civilised solution” and historic rivalries between Switzerland and the “big canton” do not explain anything. Germany is Switzerland’s prime commercial partner and the two countries have much in common, not only a language spoken by a good proportion of the Swiss population. « The Swiss have much more strict rules against money laundering than the Germans and they are the first to block money from the Arab potentates being pursued by the law”, comments the Weekly die Zeit, “but no-one in Germany is launching a crusade against the tax havens of Delaware or the Channel Islands. “No-one is any longer denouncing the opposition by Austria and Luxembourg to the automatic exchange of information. No, only Switzerland is in their sights. “The cliché of the major financial centre which is built thanks to money from the baddies remains in the collective imagination”, analyses Ulrike Guérot, Berlin-based director of the European Council for International Relations (ECFR). “Poles apart from an industrial and hard-working Germany. And it is visibly too tempting for some to run down its financial centre.” To this a cultural difference in size is added: in Germany, the tax authorities deduct from the taxpayers the money which has been agreed with them; in Switzerland, the taxpayers pay the tax authorities what has been agreed with them. ■

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


Stop energy waste Immoecology

The Swiss-French cantons have set as a common objective to ban electric radiators in buildings by 2025. As with the installation of double-glazing, mandatory in Geneva on or before 2016, this step will enable substantial energy savings to be made, while the nuclear page is on the point of being turned.

Stop energy waste By Alexander Zelenka

© iStock

In Switzerland, it is time for the fight against energy waste. In March 2011, following the Fukushima disaster, the Federal Council charged the Department for the environment, transport, energy and communication to develop new energy options, then to define action plans and corresponding packages. Based on the results of this work, the seven Sages decided, two months later, in favour of not replacing the existing nuclear power stations at the end of their operating period. At the end of 2011, they adopted a series of measures aimed at finding, on or before 2034, alternatives to the atom, which provides almost 40% of our electricity needs.

Out-of-date electric heating Among these measures, the replacement of electric heating appeared as especially urgent. This is in fact deemed to be incompatible with the principle of an economic and smart use of energy. There are less than 250,000 installations of this type in Switzerland, which in total consume just over 3 TWh. Or the equivalent of the annual production from the Mühleberg (BE) nuclear power station. Replacing these with more efficient and more environmentally friendly systems, whether these are heat pumps, wood pellet burners or district heating systems, will be mandatory on or before 2050. A necessary route when you realise that the building sector is responsible for more than 40% of the energy consumption and CO2 emissions in Switzerland. Several cantons have already taken steps in this regard. Geneva was a pioneer by prohibiting this method of heating in 1986. Today, most of the other cantons submit these installations to a very restricted authorisation scheme. In Valais, for example, the Order on the smart use of energy, which came into force last year, no longer allows electric emergency heating as a back-up for a correctly proportioned installation. Neuchâtel, Fribourg and Vaud have gone a step further, by purely and simple prohibiting electric heating. These last two cantons moreover also require the removal of existing installations, this time on or before 2050.

Subsidies for taking action To make the dismantling of the existing installations easier, the cantons are granting subsidies, as provided for by the Buildings Incentives Programme, which, since 2010, has encouraged clean energies and renewable energies with the purpose of reducing the country’s CO2 emissions and thereby helping climate protection. Which partly appeases the dissatisfaction of owners, forced to replace their heating systems after having been encouraged in the 1970s and 1980s to favour electricity over oil, this energy then being very cheap. The subsidies granted vary from one canton to another. In Vaud, owners of single-family dwellings who opt for a geothermal heat pump with output of less than 25 kW will be given a bonus of 8,000 Francs, for example. Or of 3,000 Francs, to which is added 200 Francs per thermal kilowatt, if they decide on an installation with output in excess of 25 kW. In Fribourg, the amounts are more or less the same: from 3,000 to 9,000 Francs for an air/water heat pump and from 6,000 to 9,000 Francs for a solar/ water model, depending on whether the SRE is less than or more than 400 m2. In Neuchâtel, it is slightly less. Those who opt for an air/water heat pump will receive 2,000 Francs. For a heat pump using a ground collector, a vertical sensor or a water intake, the subsidy goes to 3,000 Francs. Or to 1,700 Francs, to which a bonus of 70 centimes per kW is added, for installations of more than 20 kW. Finally, in Valais, the bonus for the installation of a heat pump is 6,000 Francs. To encourage owners to decide to replace their out-of-date heating systems, several banks are offering loans on attractive terms. ■

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

ecology

From 2016, double-glazing mandatory in Geneva ! As with electric heating installations, some windows may be responsible for significant heat loss from a building. It is possible to limit this by installing efficient double-glazed windows. The canton of Geneva has come to a decision in favour of a plan making these mandatory, the deadline of which will be on 31 January 2016. According to the canton’s Energy Department, the campaign is interesting as it may reduce heating bills by 15%. The State of Geneva recalls on its website that a significant proportion of a building’s heating requirements is provided by solar supply. Limiting energy loss by using high quality windows is a good thing, provided it does not reduce this supply too much. Care must therefore be taken in choosing windows whose G value (the energy transmitted from the outside to the inside in %) and the size of the window in relation to the surface area of the recess (frames as narrow as possible so as not to reduce the amount of sunshine) are as high as possible. Another important point: by replacing the windows, you are improving not only the quality of the insulation but also the water-tightness. Therefore, if various internal pollutants are naturally blown out through less watertight joints, this will no longer be the base with better performing windows, meaning that the means of ventilation will need to be adapted. For this work, it is also possible to obtain especially attractive fixed-rate loans.

n° 31 -Autumn 2012 -

39


2007, par rapport à la même période en 2006, confirme la bonne tenue du secteur des locations commerciales en ville de Genève. Pour obtenir des renseignements, contactez le service des locations commerciales: spgcom@spg.ch et www.spg.ch 

Immorama

Menuiserie extérieure

Menuiserie intérieure

ARTISANS ASSOCIÉS S.à r.l.

Gypserie - Peinture - Papier peint - Carrelage

Cité Vieusseux 9 1203 Genève

Tél. : 022 340 15 53 Fax : 022 340 15 74 E-mail : artisans@bluewin.ch

- Automne 2007 - no 21

GATTO

54

Visitez notre site www.cib.ch

Gatto SA 15, rue des Grottes CH-1201 Genève

Tél. 022 733 84 00 Fax 022 734 09 14 www.gatto-sa.ch Carrelages Revêtements Mosaïques Marbres Membre de la Chambre Genevoise du Carrelage et de la Céramique

50 40

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


One week to improve the convenience of the city of Geneva Immocompetition

Troisième session du concours SPG / Hepia. Candidats, professeurs, organisateurs se retrouvent à l’issue d’un séminaire marathon.

One week to improve the convenience of the city of Geneva by Vincent Juillard

competition

For the third time, students in landscape and architecture were on the hunt for forgotten locations to nominate them for redevelopment. A day by day narrative of a workshop against the clock organised by SPG and Hepia, the University of Landscape, Engineering and Architecture in Geneva. Monday 30 January 2012 : Preparing the way Some locations in Geneva are lying idle. Passers-by go through them without seeing them. Others do not work or not any more. Which are they? Hepia’s students, organised in pairs, landscape-architect and architect, were sent on a quest for these sites to “Look and Look Again”, according to the title of the short workshop, offered at the end of the third term by Hepia and SPG. For this third edition, they unearthed fourteen locations for intervention, before the start of the workshop which lasts for five days, no more. Mission for Monday, Day 1: to propose a concept capable of changing the look, the function and above all the perception of the chosen site. “To improve the convenience of the city”, according to the quotation from Thierry Barbier-Mueller, owner of SPG and originator of this public/private partnership.

« Mission for Monday, Day 1 : to propose a concept capable of changing the look, the function and above all the perception of the chosen site. »

Tuesday 31 January 2012 : Test

The students’ proposals may be far-fetched or realistic, it doesn’t matter. Provided that the pairs stick to them along the way. Furthermore, the lecturers that are coaching them are firmly committed to them: a change of project on day 2, with such a short time scale, is simply not possible. Sketches, models, simulations, research on materials, all methods are used to test, explore and investigate the design retained the day before by each team. Effervescence in the workshops of the participating companies in the rue de la Prairie.

Wednesday 1 February 2012 : present and adapt

Short presentation to the lecturers, in the form of a restricted jury. The proposals are critiqued, sometimes slightly redirected. All participants in the workshop are present for this first presentation. The teams go over the work to “draw up” their idea.

Thursday 2 February 2012 : communicate

On the day before the final jury, it is time to cull. A difficult moment. Already, all the material has been gathered together, nothing more can be said, shown, explained. They must choose the best sketch, the most meaningful design to communicate their ideas.

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

Follow us Concours SPG/Hepia www.spg.ch/Evénements

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

41


Immocompetition

One week to improve the convenience of the city of Geneva

« They must choose the best sketch to communicate their idea. »

Prepare their message, on the presentation boards in A1 poster format, but also their “speech” to the jury. Communicate their idea while remaining aware of its inevitable flaws. Demonstrate humble enthusiasm, in short.

Friday 3 February 2012 : present

Francesco Della Casa, cantonal architect. He underlines the kinship of the approach with « Lausanne Gardens ».

The day of judgement. The students and lecturers are showing signs of tiredness. The others, professionals in town planning, landscape and architecture and the members of SPG’s management, are enthusiastic in response to the diversity of the proposals. Fourteen in all, this year, against nine last year. The workshop “Look and Look Again - urban designs” works well and is popular with students. In the afternoon, the jury meets behind closed doors, in a glass room, next to the project workshops. The models of the fourteen projects are displayed on tables. First round. Discussions, eliminations. Mark the footprints of the thousands of pedestrians who are crossing the new place Bel-Air, a point where all the trams in the canton of Geneva converge. The idea reveals the “hideous” nature of the place, but does not bring any improvement. “Unfortunately”, underlines a member of the jury. A tea room at the tour de Champel, this imitation ruin which has lost its glory. That would please the ladies of the beautiful quarter, but is it enough? An illusion on the Agrippad’Aubigné terrace, below the cathedral? A step too “tourist” oriented, more arty than improving - that isn’t really the purpose of the competition. Criteria emerge: the jury does not want a ‘decorative’ project, nor contributions in the style of contemporary art; it wants choices of original sites and finds that, from this point of view, the contributions on water are always a bit .... boaty. A guiding question for the discussions: which proposal gives a real second chance to the place that it wants to transform? Not this pink river in the Grottes quarter. And if the project for the renovation of Hepia’s courtyard, in the same place as its preparation, had the most going for it? Could the most serious of the proposals perhaps one day be achieved? The jury chose this well put-together project unanimously.

Tuesday 22 May 2012: prize-giving

The 2012 winners 1st prize « Synergie », by F. Pain et O. Ivanov

2nd prize

« La Tour bidon », by A. Trilhe et J. Boussaire 3rd prize « Mâte-moi ça », by N.-A. Fantini et P. Hattu

bativer n24.pdf 27.01.2009 16:58:06

Three months later, the winning teams meet in SPG’s headquarters in the route de Chêne. All the company’s managers are there, as well as Hepia’s management and representatives from the communal and cantonal authorities. Thierry Barbier-Mueller announces the creation of a Facebook page and the launch of a publication including all the proposals made during the three editions of “Look and Look Again”. There will be others, as this partnership works well, adds the owner of SPG. Hepia’s director, Yves Leuzinger, commits himself by declaring that the 2012 winning development “may well be achieved one day”, as the college’s site is in need of being updated. It remains to find partners. And wait until the site’s future is settled, as moving hasn’t been ruled out. The cantonal architect, Francesco Della Casa refers to the kinship of the approach with “Lausanne Gardens”. This four-yearly event also has the merit of revealing trivialised or ignored sites, to change the perception of common areas. Sometimes even preparing for change. “Putting gardens where there are none”, according to the theme of a potential “Geneva Gardens”, which may take place in 2014. ■

Advertising

42

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


© Heimatschutz

Bathe, under the cover of heritage Immobaths

The baths by the engineer Isler in Brugg. Its structure offers a wonderful volume under cover as well as exceptional clarity thanks to its glass arches installed on each side.

Bathe, under the cover of heritage

baths

by Valérie Hoffmeyer

The 1900s – The family baths(Volksbad) of Saint-Gall The lake is too far for the Saint-Gallois to go swimming, although you can see it from the hill at Freudenberg. Besides, it is there that the famous family baths are perched, all in wood, in the open, built at the end of the XIX century in a hygienist spirit. For a Winter work-out of the body, the town’s architect built, just after these wooden baths, a covered pool. He was inspired by the model of a church, as was often the case at the time: a “nave” in a cradle covering a 20 metre pool, a “choir”, galleries, high windows and changing rooms resembling confessionals ... The Volksbad is the oldest preserved covered swimming pool in Switzerland.

Architect : Albert Pfeiffer Date : 1904 – 1906 Adress : Volksbadstrasse 6, Saint-Gall

Architect : Hermann Herter Date : 1938 – 1941 Adress : Sihlstrasse 71, Zurich © Heimatschutz

To extend the Summer a little longer and while swimming, discover the architectureof the XX e century public baths, visit five covered pools, listed by Patrimoine Suisse (Swiss Heritage) in its elegant, littleguide which has been completely revised, « Les plus beaux bains de Suisse » (The most beautiful baths in Switzerland).

The 1940s – The City-Hallenbad in Zurich The city’s architect at the time, Hermann Herter, chose an amazing architectural scheme, in view of the dramatic climate of these war years. Built right in the centre, the Hallenbad City is a true glass palace, the whole transparent and in total clarity. The first covered swimming pool in the city of Zurich, the complex is bestowed with high glass arches and even a glass roof, in the process of restoration. Closed since May 2010 for total renovation, the reopening of this modern monument is eagerly awaited by the people of Zurich, deprived of one of the rare 50 metre pools in the city. The alternative replacement solutions costing too much, swimmers have had to move to the covered baths of the Oerlikon, the largest in the city, and which are also in need of renovation. The centre’s inhabitants will get “their” baths back this Winter, free from the dross and other additions which over the decades have tarnished the purity of Herter’s work.

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

Architect : Max Schlup Date : 1967 – 1968 Adress : rue Centrale 60, Bienne

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

43


Immobaths Bathe, under the cover of heritage

The 1960s – The Pool at the Palais des Congrès in Bienne This was a time of strong and expressive gestures, after the years of crisis and modesty. Visible from afar, the tour of the Palais des Congrès in Bienne forms part of these architectural trials which lack neither panache nor elegance. In the guise of a “Launch ramp”, the sloping roof of the Palais which adjoins it, the largest suspended slab in Europe at the time of its construction, shelters a pool.

© Heimatschutz

Architects : A. Cingria, J. Duret, F. Maurice Date : 1966 – 1968 Adress : Volksbadstrasse, Saint-Gall

Architect : Heinz Isler Date : 1981 Adress : Kanalstrasse 20, Brugg AG

Learn more

“Les plus beaux bains de Suisse” (The most beautiful baths in Switzerland), 2nd Edition, 2012, Ed. Patrimoine suisse www.heimatschutz.ch

The 1960s – The Vernets swimming pool in Geneva A contemporary of the spectacular pool in Bienne, the Vernets pool in Geneva, filled with light, demonstrates a certain discretion, while it has plenty of space: two pools, one of 50 metres, a paddling pool, a wide stairway and a beautifully high ceiling. Nestled in a sporting complex and not in a palace, it nevertheless pulls off several feats, in particular a noticeable lack of support pillars (beams with four spokes), in view of the size of the roof. As in Bienne, the entire building obeys a strictly regular grid system, especially discernible in the frequency of the window “panes”. What fills the mind when doing lengths in backstroke ?

The 1980s - The baths by the engineer Isler in Brugg. Beside the Aar, in Brugg, the covered pool carried off by the engineer Heinz Isler possesses the same shell of reinforced concrete, the feeling of lightness as the former Sicli factory in Geneva. In the manner of a curtain raised by the wind, kept on the ground by four feet placed at its corners, the Isler structures have had good fortune especially due to their great versatility. The spatial quality that they offer is not their only virtue, and the pool in Brugg proves it: the sides of the “raised curtain” are glazed, which brings a large amount of light to the interior. In total, a surface area of 35 x 35 metres, crossed by a 25 metre pool and overhung by a mezzanine. ■

SPG - RYTZ GROUP

MULTIMEDIA ONLINE PLATFORMS

Owners, wherever you are in the world, access your real estate property and control your real estate portfolio day and night.

ou

44

SPG ONLINE RYTZ ONLINE https://online.spg.ch/ https://online.rytz.com/ www.spg.ch www.rytz.com Available on App Store – Mobile versions – Online mail alerts

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

www.rytz.com

www.spg.ch

Welcome to the Société Privée de Gérance’s online service

>>> Follow us


A NÇ PO

13, PROMENADE CHAMPS-FRÉCHETS 1217 MEYRIN E-Immorama MAIL : rod-ber@bluewin.ch TÉL.: 022 782 45 67 - FAX : 022 782 45 78

Installations Thermiques - Maintenance Etudes - Réalisations - Dépannages

butty n104_2.pdf 08.12.2010 13:48:40

no 21 - Automne 2007 -

23

peinture – décoration – papiers-peints Tél : 022 786 66 00 – Fax : 022 786 66 20 – 26, Rue des Vollandes – 1207 Genève

w ww. b ut t ys a . c h Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

45


Immorama

Excès de Zèle Nettoyage Fin de chantier Entretien de bureaux Traitements de sols Désinfection Conciergerie

T +41 22 732 30 69 - BAJRAM@IB-SERVICES.CH - WWW.IB-SERVICES.CH

Terrasses ( essences variées ) Chapes sèches Ponçage – Imprégnation – Cirage – Huilage 022 345 15 56 8, rue des Battoirs 1205 Genève info@raparquet.ch www.raparquet.ch

« Profitons de la fôret et respectons- là!! »

Acheter, vendre, louer… Choisissez la rubrique “Immobilier” du journal le plus lu à Genève ! Tél. 022 807 22 11 Fax 022 807 22 33

www.ghi.ch

Stormatic_30.indd 1

46

24.02.2012 16:22:41

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Pour publier une annonce, contactez-nous !


© Paysagestion/All rights reserved

Lausanne, capital of nature Immogreen

An ephemeral garden : the Passerelles Rêves. Created in the Genevan landscape from the Montbenon esplanade, Lausanne Gardens Festival 2000.

Lausanne, capital of nature

green

by Alexander Zelenka

Following an active policy in respect of nature conservation and biodiversity management, the City of Lausanne is multiplying the measures in favour of indigenous animal and plant species, applying the rules of sustainable development with success. « Lausanne, Olympic capital », you may read in brochures in the tourist offices. They could also write : « Lausanne, capital of nature ». This city of more than 130,000 inhabitants - regarded as one of the greenest in Switzerland, as its green spaces cover almost half of communal land - in fact conducts a policy of managing nature which is both dynamic and exemplary. « Lausanne committed several years ago to the search for a harmonious balance between urbanistic development and integration with nature, the Lausanne authorities indicate on their website. In the right line of sustainable development, this approach considers the roles of nature in all its dimensions. Its social role is undeniable. Its cultural or aesthetic value needs no more demonstration. A city’s green spaces and their biodiversity also have an (economic) role to play in the services being offered to man, from the reduction of pollution to soil stabilisation, via absorption of rainwater. »

« The numerous green spaces also favour the presence of a mass of mammals, led by foxes and martens. »

Since the start of the 1990s, the Parks and Open Spaces Department has thus favoured discriminatory maintenance, allowing the transformation of several intensively maintained mown grass areas into extensive prairie areas, needing no more watering or weedkillers. The gradual abandonment of the use of synthetic chemical phytosanitary products in communal green spaces, including cemeteries, with the objective of completely banning pesticides within three to five years, is also on schedule. « For sports grounds and swimming pool lawns, where a high quality of grass is required by users, studies are underway for a more environmentally friendly management”, explains Pascale Aubert, Nature Representative since the start of 2011. In town and community allotments available to the inhabitants of several quarters, courses to raise awareness and for training for environmentally friendly management of allotments began in 2010 and will be intensified.

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

47


Immogreen Lausanne, capital of nature

Finally, the city of Lausanne is making private owners, whose gardens occupy almost a quarter of the land in the city, aware of the importance of having more than wild nature in their gardens, in order to favour indigenous species, whether animals or plants. »

On the Web

Living roofs are becoming more widespread

www.lausanne.ch/nature Interactive Guide “Lausanne, Ville et Nature” (Lausanne, City and Nature).

In addition to the sustainable development of green spaces, Lausanne’s ecological policy is accompanied by several symbolic actions. Among these, we can quote the building of dry stone walls, which offer select habitats for reptiles and insects, the use of horse-drawn vehicles for an environmentally friendly refuse collection, mowing by scythe to limit noise nuisance and pollution and erecting birds’ nests and insect hotels. In respect of its Agenda 21 programme, the city of Lausanne also set up, in 2001, the annual event “One tree, one child” which aims to maintain an emotional link between the people of Lausanne and their forests: each Autumn, the parents of children born in the preceding year are invited to come and plant a tree in a sector of the communal forest. To make the urban area even greener, the capital of Vaud began, twenty years ago, to plant up some roofs in the city centre. According to the experts, the benefits of this type of roof are numerous: greater longevity, better climate control, retention of rainwater, capture of carbon, anchoring of dust and particles, humidification of the air in Summer, investment in the building’s thermal and sound insulation, lowering of air conditioning requirements, shade for flora and fauna and even aesthetic gains, to quote only the main ones. A premise has furthermore recently been filed, requesting the Municipality to study and propose regulatory tools with the purpose of flat living roofs becoming more widespread.

To read « Les oiseaux nicheurs de Lausanne et environs » (The Breeding Birds of Lausanne and the surrounding areas), Pierre Beaud, Editions Nos Oiseaux, 256 pages ; « Flore de Lausanne et de sa région » (Flora of Lausanne and its region), volumes 1 and 2, Françoise Hoffer-Massard, Jacques Droz, Mathias Vust and Christophe Bornand, Editions Rossolis, 192 pages (volume 1) and 288 pages (volume 2).

© Shutterstock

Lausanne Gardens 2009. The living roof of the M2 station in the place de l’Europe..

If Lausanne is contemplating equipping itself with a bio-monitoring tool enabling it to measure the evolution of nature in the city over time, the success of its policy is already confirmed in terms of surveys made on the ground by biologists. To begin with, it can pride itself on its botanical riches, as more than 1,300 different plants and flowers are thriving there. As far as birds are concerned, we can count no less than 88 breeding species, including six which are registered in the Red List of threatened species and a dozen considered as priorities in Switzerland. The numerous green spaces also favour the presence of a mass of mammals, led by foxes and martens, which knew how to acclimatise to the urban environment. Regarding insects, Lausanne has not been idle. It harbours, for example, twenty species of butterflies, some of which are also on the Red List. Finally, it is welcoming several amphibians, including some very rare species, which also have a liking for the forests of Lausanne and their humid areas. If this list of species present in the urban environment is far from being exhaustive, one thing is sure: if animals and plants could vote, they would without a doubt elect Lausanne as one of the best places to live in Switzerland ! ■

Encart Immorama 180x56_Mise en page 1 16/08/12 10:19 Page1 Advertising

LʼATELIER du STORE et du VERRE 11, chemin des Bois-Jacquet CP 6 - 1219 Aïre Tél. 022 797 02 20 - Fax 022 349 53 89 atelstore@bluewin.ch

Entreprise

48

générale

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

travaillant

dans

lʼesprit

du

développement

durable

>>> Follow us


Immorama Fazio_n28.pdf 14/02/2011 17:21:41

24/24 DépannageDépannage 24/24

FAZIO & Cie

MENUISERIE - RÉNOVATION DE FENÊTRES

chemin des Batailles 22, chemin des 22, Batailles VITRAGES - SERRURES 1214 Vernier 1214 Vernier Tél. : +41 22 341Tél. 43 10: +41 22 341 43 10 AGENCEMENT DE CUISINES Fax : +41 22 341 Fax 43 11: +41 22 341 43 11 Entreprise Entreprise générale générale Natel +41 76 582Natel 44 36 +41 76 582 44 36 d’électricité www.appelec.ch d’électricité vg@appelec.ch www.appelec.ch Tél. : 022 340 66 70 - Fax: 022 340 66 90 - Natel: 079 214 38 06

appelec n24.indd 1

f

04.02.2009 09:24:52

f.fonseca s.a. g y p s e r i e - p e i n t u r e p a p i e r s

Rue des Rois 2 CH-1204 Genève

p e i n t s

Tél. +41 (0)22 321 73 23 Fax +41 (0)76 389 73 23 contact @ fernando-fonseca.ch f.fonseca s.a. www.fernando-fonseca.ch

f

g y p s e r i e - p e i n t u r e p a p i e r s p e i n t s

Depuis 40 ans à votre service F O U R N I T U R E E T P O S E - PA R Q U E T S - M O Q U E T T E S SOLS PLASTIQUES - PLINTHES - PONÇAGE - IMPRÉGNATION

154, route d’Aïre - C.P. 25 1219 Aïre - Genève

Tél. : 022 796 83 22 Fax : 022 796 83 69

www.welcome-geneva.com/murner wmurnersa@bluewin.ch

atelverre n24.pdf 27.01.2009 16:13:43

pave fonseca_n30.indd 1

13.02.2012 15:00:10

électricité

télécom

installation

dépannage

bernardino n24.pdf 27.01.2009 16:23:37

BERNARDINO

32 ch des Muguets 1234 Vessy/GE Tel. & Fax: 022 342 18 08 Mail: info@s-tileandstone.com manu@s-tileandstone.com

50

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

PA RQ M UET OQ S UE - P TT ON ES ÇA - N GE ET TO YA

GE

ENTREPRISE DE REVÊTEMENT DE SOLS

13, PROMENADE CHAMPS-FRÉCHETS 1217 MEYRIN

E-mail : bernardino-sols@bluewin.ch

TÉL.: 022 782 45 67 FAX : 022 782 45 78

>>> Pour publier une annonce, contactez-nous !


The 7 wonders of the world

Immowonders

© iStock

The Taj Mahal, in India. Since 7 July 2007, this monument has been one of the seven new wonders of the modern world.

The 7 Wonders of the World by Alexander Zelenka

Since the beginning of 2012, the Genevan Bernard Weber has been offering internet users throughout the world the opportunity to vote for the 7 most wonderful cities in the world, following competitions to select the 7 new wonders of nature and the seven new wonders of the world. Zoom to a concept which has been given a huge amount of media coverage, seeing phenomenal success. In addition to being a globe-trotter, pilot and developer, the Genevan Bernard Weber notable for being Federico Fellini’s assistant - is also a marketing genius. In 1999, when the internet was in the major boom period, he created the company New7Wonders and in 2000, launched a competition calling on internet users throughout the world to elect the 7 new wonders of the world, in reference to the 7 ancient wonders of the world, nominated by Philon de Byzance more than two thousand years ago as being to most perfect in all mankind. « From these structures, only the pyramid of Giza, in Egypt, is still visible », recalls Bernard Weber. « This seems to me to be sufficient reason to decide to offer citizens throughout the world the opportunity to choose the 7 new wonders of the modern world. » To the voters, asked to express their preferences by telephone, SMS or via the internet, he set the condition that the chosen structures must have been erected by man, completed before 2000 and that they are in an acceptable state of preservation. Five years and tens of millions of votes later, some 177 monuments were in contention. A commission from the New7Wonders Foundation - composed of superstars from the world of architecture from the five continents, being Zaha Hadid, César Pelli, Tadao Ando, Harry Seidler, Aziz Tayob and Yung Ho Chang, and presided over by Federico Mayor, former director general of UNESCO - reduced their number to twenty, after having assessed the aesthetic value, architectural characteristics and historical legitimacy of each one. On 7 July 2007, during a ceremony broadcast on global television from Lisbon, the Great Wall of China, Petra, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Macchu Picchu, Chichen Itza, the Colosseum and the Taj Mahal officially became the 7 new wonders of the world, following a final massive wave of votes to adjudicate

Don’t litter - dispose of in a waste bin !

>>> www.immorama.ch

wonders

« Five years and tens of millions of votes later, some 177 monuments were in contention. »

Vote for the 7 most wonderful cities of the world www.n7w.com

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

51


Immowonders

The 7 wonders of the world

The seven ancient wonders of the world 1. The Lighthouse of Alexandria 2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon 3. The Chryselephantine Statue of Zeus at Olympia 4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus 5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus 6. The Colossus of Rhodes 7. The Great Pyramid of Giza

between the twenty finalists. « The people of the whole world have created seven monuments which the world will remember », comments Bernard Weber. « This will not replace the list of ancient wonders of the world, which will always occupy an important place in history. We have modernised a magnificent Greek concept, that of the wonders of the world, and used another magnificent Greek invention, democracy, to achieve it. » The Genevans are taking this opportunity to remember that this initiative is only the first step, and that the ultimate ambition of New7Wonders is to dedicate the profits from the operation to the preservation and restoration of the monuments. Since then, this organisation has undertaken a huge operation to save the Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, in Afghanistan. A virtual reconstruction in 3D has already been completed, in partnership with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Zurich, and exhibited at the Swiss Pavilion during the Aichi World Expo in Japan.

Going from monuments to nature and to cities

The seven new wonders of the modern world 1. The Great Wall of China 2. Petra, Jordan 3. The Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 4. Machu Picchu, Peru 5. Chichen Itza, Mexico 6. The Colosseum, Italy 7. The Taj Mahal, India

The seven wonders of nature 1. Amazonia: Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela 2. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam 3. Iguazu Falls, Brazil 4. Island of Jeju, South Korea 5. Island of Komodo, Indonesia 6. Table Mountain South Africa 7. The Underground River of Puerto Princesa, Philippines

If criticism mounted at the time within UNESCO to denounce a campaign which was neither democratic - on the grounds that not everyone in the world has access to the internet or a telephone - nor scientific, and which was accused of only shining the spotlight on a small number of already very famous monuments, Bernard Weber remains unruffled : « In UNESCO, there are 21 experts who decide on the sites which will be placed on the list of world heritage sites. With us, 130 million people voted. It is more democratic. » Very quickly, the 7 new wonders of the world saw their visitor numbers explode. The Great Wall of China recently broke its all-time attendance records, driving the Chinese authorities to open new sections of the monument to the public. Conducted by the English auditing company Pearson, a study has quantified the economical, touristic and promotional increase in value of the election of the 7 new wonders of the world at more than 5 billion dollars. On the strength of this success, Bernard Weber did it again in 2009 with the launch of a new competition to elect, in the same way, the 7 wonders of nature. In a few months, almost 440 sites were submitted to the New7Wonders Foundation. After a preliminary voting phase, the list was reduced to 77 sites and, after selection by a committee of experts, to 28 finalists, among which was Le Cervin. At the end of 2011, the provisional winners were announced. Amazonia in Peru, Columbia and Brazil, the Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, the Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina, the island of Jeju in South Korea, the island of Komodo in Indonesia, the underground river of Puerto Princesa in the Philippines and Table Mountain in South Africa were crowned as the most beautiful places in the world. The Genevan entrepreneur hasn’t waited around before setting up a new project. Since the beginning of the year, citizens throughout the world have been able to elect the 7 most wonderful cities of the world. The first phase of the competition ends at the end of November 2012. The only representative of Switzerland, Zurich stands in 25th position, in the Western Europe group. So for those who would like to boost the German-speaking metropolis in the polls, to your computers ! ■

Advertising

52

- Autumn 2012 - n° 31

>>> Follow us


« Eve la Vie », supporting people in mourning Immoheart

Philippe Renaud created the “Eve la Vie” Foundation. It comes to the aid of those who have lost a loved one. In September 2010, Evelyne passes away after six years fighting illness. Philippe remains prostrated, in shock. Days pass, then weeks, but the pain continues to engulf him. With friends and family, he doesn’t find people that listen and pay attention to him. “My nearest and dearest prefer to avoid the subject, thinking they are protecting me, whereas the effect was the reverse. Not hearing my wife spoken of was for me, unbearable”, remembers Philippe. This is why, from this abyss, he has put all his energy into creating a foundation. “I needed at all costs to throw body and soul into a project”, he admits. Taken into confidence, colleagues directed Philippe to Rose-Marie Conesa. Through their discussions, they discovered points they had in common: Rose-Marie had also previously lost her spouse. She felt the same loss of bearings. Her experience helped Philippe to cope with his internal feelings. He discovers that “the process of bereavement” is a kind of chaotic road, including several stages of varying lengths, listed by the Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer in palliative care Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. After the announcement of the death, the one remaining feels stunned. Then the bereaved person goes through a period of denial, then anger ... before plunging into depression. Only then .... can acceptance gradually emerge. Quickly, the theme of bereavement and support becomes central. Philippe and RoseMarie are aware that it was there that their project must focus. They also discover that associations are lacking in French-speaking Switzerland “Death remains a taboo subject in our society. It has been completely disposed of and is even related to failure”, recounts Phillippe Renaud. As a result, it is only when its strikes us that we confront it. Apart from that, we try to keep it as far as possible from us. “ Within As’trame and Caritas, they undergo training on bereavement and support of those at the end of their life or faced with death; a course generally aimed at hospital workers. “It was sometimes painful, but also very rewarding”, acknowledges Rose-Marie. It enabled me to take a step back and define my emotions better. I also learned to listen to others better. As a result, within the foundation, all volunteers must follow this training.” “It brings credibility to our work!” explains Philippe. Created in April 2011, the “Eve la Vie” Foundation opens its doors in Grand-Saconnex, in the premises of the Ecumenical Church Centre, in January 2012. The website is visited more than 2,000 times a month. The Foundation’s board has been supplemented by two new members, Christelle Jaquier and Angela Custodio, while a handful of volunteers, often friends, assist them in their work. Everyone needs to find the right distance, to keep quiet sometimes, and to bring more sustained support at other times. “During exchanges, we listen to the course of each of their lives and try to find what motivates them. This may be painting, music, or simply group outings to break up the solitude. For us to gradually reintroduce positive energy into their daily life. “To achieve this, activities are regularly offered and put on the foundation’s website. “We started with a walk”, explains Philippe, as walking in the open air enables you to reconnect with life: it’s both beautiful and peaceful at the same time. Then, there is a concept of self-transcendence essential to giving back their taste for life. “Those who don’t like walking can choose courses in photography or browsing museums; others may visit unusual places or take their first scuba dive. The list will be extended further as the founders are considering cooking and computer courses ... All serve as a reason for not leaving people in their sadness and solitude. And these free days do not only bring bereaved people together. Anyone may join the group. Indeed, in some cases, it is also possible to obtain financial support. Philippe Renaud is also working on the development of a bereavement chart, to ease the steps following the death of a close one: “This exists in other countries, but not yet with us. This will mark out the obstacle course and direct them towards better patterns. “The foundation has managed to create a benevolent place where a welcome, listening and exchanges follow each other. Gradually, healing will then happen by restoring their lost zest for life. ■

Visit our website !

>>> www.immorama.ch

« Eve la Vie », supporting people in mourning by Nathalie Pasquier

« Everyone needs to find the right distance, to keep quiet sometimes, and to bring more sustained support at other times. »

heart

Community spirit For its 2013 Good Wishes cards, the SPG-RYTZ Group has chosen to support the « Eve la Vie » Foundation. On this occasion, the selected association or foundation receives a donation of CHF 10,000.00. The Good Wishes cares are sent to all the SPG-RYTZ Group’s clients, partners and suppliers, amounting to almost 10,000 people. The association is also highlighted on the Group’s websites. For your requests for support, please send your details to solidarite@spg.ch « Eve la Vie » Foundation P.O. Box 4 1211 Geneva 28, Switzerland Tél. +41 22 788 40 18 contact@evelavie.ch www.evelavie.ch Postal account 12-840728-9

n° 31 - Autumn 2012 -

53



Immorama_anglais_31