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Rajiv Patel is economic attaché at the Embassy of India in Berne and business columnist for Swiss Radio and Television. He has a degree in finance from the University of Delhi and does management consultancy for large corporations worldwide. He enjoys cricket, sudoku and love songs.

Can Swiss bankers travel to America?

Dear Rajiv,

My new wife wants to go on honeymoon to America. The problem is that I’m a Swiss banker. Should I be worried?

Rolf B., Zurich

Have you ever been to Sils-Maria? Does your new wife know the lovely Hotel Waldhaus, with its fairy-tale castle setting and five-star service? The Engadine Valley is one of Switzerland’s most unspoiled regions, almost as nice as the Ladakh mountain range in northern India. Just tell your fräulein that she’s in the Himalayas and wait until the sun goes down. In a jiffy, she’ll be dreaming of luxury palaces, holy temples and maharajas on elephants.

Now how does that sound, for a honeymoon? I hope you like it, because it’s either that or the Bahnhofbuffet in Olten. If you go any further – I mean, if you leave Swiss territory – you risk being caught in a fishing net and roasted in the tandoori oven before your liebling even has the time to splash on some mascara. That is what has happened to quite a few of your banker friends over the past few years, eh? One of them even thought he could spend some holidays in Italy last October, until the pizza-boys turned him in.

I’m surprised you’re not better informed. Most Swiss bankers would love to buy some cheap dollars and go shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue or take the kids to Disney World. But these guys know better: this year, meine kinder, we’re going hiking in the mountains. Yes, like last year, and probably like next year as well.

Of course, your wife will soon figure out that this isn’t what she signed up for initially. You’ve hopefully already started putting aside a few million francs for legal fees and fines, just in case. Maybe you’ve sold the boat now, and perhaps that new Porsche will have to wait a bit. But all this is much better than peeling potatoes at Broward County Jail in Florida. Just explain this to schätzeli. I think she will prefer Sils-Maria to Fort Lauderdale after all. 

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