Hollywood gives Swiss bankers a bad rap

The director of the Swiss national film archives explains how Hollywood is helping to keep clichés about dishonest Swiss bankers alive.

To foreigners, Switzerland often means Alpine mountains, cows, chocolates – and tax evasion. As Frédéric Maire, director of the Swiss national film archives, explains in this video, the Hollywood movie machine is helping to keep these clichés alive. He examines whether the sleazy characters depicted in films such as Wolf of Wall Street are simply exaggerations of the real bankers working in Geneva. We ask him whether the rigid, stiff, secretive, protestant, Germanic banking types of Zürich are real or just figments of filmmakers’ imaginations. Switzerland is the largest offshore wealth centre in the world, managing 27% of all cross-border assets. In October 2018, it officially started exchanging bank account data with tax authorities in other countries, marking the end of Swiss banking secrecy. Banks are required to report transactions if they suspect criminal funds are involved. But still villains in movie thrillers often take the form of a Swiss banker.

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