FECIF - The European Federation of Financial Advisers and Financial Intermediaries

Editorial - May 2023

Yves NideggerMe Yves Nidegger,
Lawyer, Member of the Swiss Parliament,
Legal Advisor of GSCGI-SAIFA

Welcome to the age of sanctions

It does not seem impossible to me at all that, after the Stone Age and the Iron Age, the archaeologists of the future will one day designate the era we are entering today as the Age of Sanctions.


Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, our politicians have only one word on their lips: "sanctions". Punishing has become a passion. Of course, invading one's neighbour, bombing cities with missiles, and destroying the infrastructure necessary for the daily life of a population is something to be condemned in addition to being terribly shocking for us Europeans, who wrongly thought that war had become the fate of some far away tribes, who do not have the high level of intelligence that characterizes us and that allows us to resolve all conflicts by civil means.

Whereas throughout history, humanity and all its constituent human groups have lived in constant awareness of the risk of their extinction by the sudden onset of the epidemic, famine, war, or all three, our generation had settled into the unique fear that the excessive success of our species would endanger other species, that the excessive success of our human group would injure other, less fortunate groups. The fear of human overpopulation had given way to the fear of extinction, and the anxiety about the environment's vulnerability had replaced the archaic fear of man being exposed to the overpowering forces of nature.

And now, in three years, one after the other, a new virus, the collapse of supply chains, and the return of war have all come together to sign the return of our archaic fears against a backdrop of apocalyptic talk about the climate.

Faced with this, our governments, forced as they are to show that they are doing something rather than nothing, have returned to what they know best: surveillance and punishment. Failing to know what to do that is useful, they punish, and they punish with the passion that characterizes the energy of despair. Gone are the intangible fundamental freedoms of which the West was proud only yesterday.

In the face of the virus, we imitated China, which punished the whistle-blowing doctor before walling up its citizens. We have confined and persecuted the dissidents who dared to defy the word of the State by loudly doubting the necessity of the confinement, the usefulness of destroying the economy, and the advisability of convening massive inflation by artificially creating the money supply necessary to mask, in the short term, the devastating consequences of measures promulgated blindly, and the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

In the face of war, there is no geopolitical analysis of its objective causes, no search for an antidote to armed confrontation, but an exclusively moral discourse, which is undoubtedly necessary but totally insufficient, and which can only lead to an escalation of sanctions without end, since sanctions, as we know, have never stopped wars. Credit Suisse has just been sanctioned for not having sufficiently sanctioned certain clients under sanction.


The passion to punish has become a political virtue, by which an executive shows that it exists. Your car emits CO2, sanctions, your garbage, your heating, and your language do not conform to the dogmas of the moment, sanctions!

The Swiss Parliament is currently working on a "class action" project, a collective action inspired by the American "punitive damages" to be inserted in our code of civil procedure.

The idea is that any infringement should be able to give rise to compensation.

A city or company that damages the climate by not taking all possible protective measures should compensate the victims, i.e., the whistleblowers. The German Bundesbahn has just been fined for forcing a non-binary person to choose between Mr. or Mrs. when subscribing to a yearly transportation ticket. This could happen to the SBB tomorrow.

The West, which was once characterized by freedom of trade and expression, and opposed authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, has now become its zealous follower.


We have just discussed the case of investment advisors, who offer their clients purely advisory services without ever placing management orders, and whom the FATF would like to see sanctioned under Swiss law if they do not denounce their clients in case of suspicion of having been consulted for tax optimization purposes!

The Swiss Parliament, which includes many lawyers, whose activity consists precisely in advising clients, dared to rebel against this arbitrary diktat.

The answer was not long in coming, under the code name: "Pandora papers". If journalists were still investigating, we would have known. No one is unaware that this theft of documents is the result of the implementation of state resources in the context of a commercial war against the Swiss financial centre. Once stolen, the information is delivered to consortiums of journalists who collectively hide and launder it.

In Bern, colleagues from the minority left during the vote, were thus able to return to the charge by claiming that the "Pandora papers" would be proof of the usefulness and necessity of breaking the trust that binds the client to his advisor by instituting the latter as an obliged informer of the former, under penalty of punishment if he fails to report when he realizes that the investment advice given could be required for tax optimization purposes.


This obsession with punishment is all the more curious because it is the work of a generation that was fed in its youth with the milk of May 68 "it is forbidden to prohibit". They have all read Michel Foucault, "Surveiller et Punir", which gives a very negative idea, not only of the prison but also of the whole social system to which individuals are forced to conform. And now, in power, these former libertarians show an almost totalitarian passion for prohibition, tracking down private thoughts that even the Inquisition did not think of pursuing.

It is as if the liberal state, which repeated until the fall of the Berlin Wall that nothing good could happen without freedom, had suddenly converted to the opposite thesis, taking over the role of enemy of freedom from the bankrupt Soviet Union. The USSR had at least the virtue of setting an example not to be followed. At the very second when the bad example of what happens when one neglects freedom (censorship, KGB, five-year plans, shortages, social corruption) disappeared, the euphoric liberal states became their own enemies of freedom.

In 30 years, our states have become cantankerous nannies who threaten and bully you for your own good all day long in order to keep you, through fear of punishment, on a straight path that only they understand. This idea has become part of the law.

For fifteen years I have been sitting in Bern, watching bills of an administrative nature proposed by the Federal Council pass by, all of which include a formidable body of administrative criminal law, the severity of which is constantly increasing on the grounds that a rule that is not accompanied by sufficiently dissuasive sanctions will necessarily remain without effect.


The introduction of ever more severe financial sanctions, everywhere and in every respect, has become the mark of seriousness in politics. It is as if the generation that kicked God out of heaven wanted to replace him. The fear of emptiness, no doubt.

In the absence of a God to announce the end of the world and the last judgment, the UN-IPCC is invented. In the absence of a religiously inspired morality, hyper-normalization and the criminalization of blasphemy against the official truths are established.

In the absence of divine punishment, the State takes over the function. During the health crisis, the French State flew helicopters over the mountains and forests to track down lone hikers who had strayed too far (10km) or too long from their homes. Once religious and ecclesiastical, fanaticism has become moral and administrative.

The North Korean regime would never have thought of obliging its citizens to issue themselves with a written administrative exemption before allowing themselves to leave their homes with an indication of the reason, and then to fine those who would have exceeded the duration or the reason of their own authorization. Macron's France has done this.

Each State acted according to its own administrative culture. In Switzerland, the Federal Council itself ordered us to line up 'masked' in front of the supermarkets and allowed us to buy food and soap, but not flowers!

Citizens who were denounced for not wearing masks were slammed to the ground and handcuffed. The idea that each individual has subjective rights that he or she can exercise, including against the State, that is, against the authority exercised in the name of the whole community, is undoubtedly the mark of the liberal West.

What's left of it since the health crisis?


The idea that private property, which can be opposed to any third party including the State, is in principle inviolable, is another mark of the liberal West. What has remained of it since the war?
The private assets of people deemed to be close to the Russian head of State guilty of aggression against Ukraine have not only been frozen, which can be done pending the outcome of a court case, but are in the process of being confiscated without trial, thus undermining the legal protection of property in principle.
In addition, the value of everyone's savings capital is at risk of evaporating as a result of the inflation that has been installed to allow the State to reduce its debt by means of a currency whose value decreases every day in relation to what it was at the time of the loan.


In foreign policy, too, the passion for sanctions has upset the order of things by brutally accelerating the de-dollarization of the energy market, which the United States had so feared. As long as oil was quoted exclusively in dollars, the world had to buy dollars to acquire oil, and he who controls the dollar controls the world.

Based on an analysis that overestimated the strength of the Russian military and underestimated its economic resilience based on GDP alone, the West thought to deal Russia a fatal blow by freezing the dollar and euro foreign exchange reserves held by its central bank, in order to prevent it from defending the declining ruble rate in the early days of the war.

As a result, the Russians, who no longer want to sell their oil in a currency that can be taken away from them, now invoice in rubles. The world is now buying rubles to buy oil.

Intended to torpedo its economy, the sanctions helped Russia finance its war and raised the value of the ruble above its pre-war level. The global de-dollarization, and therefore the decline of the United States, has been accelerated. Saudi Arabia is following suit, and Venezuelan and Brazilian oil will probably soon be traded in a new currency.

With less demand on the markets, surplus dollars are flowing back into the U.S. economy, which is exposed to the ravages of inflation.

The programmed disappearance of the American world order is giving ideas to all the regional powers that have geopolitical pawns to advance, at the forefront of which are India, Turkey, Iran, and some others.
Will we sanction them, one after the other, when they cross the red lines drawn by Washington?


The spiral of sanctions is nothing but collective, societal, economic and political suicide. Having become prosperous and, in its own way, very influential, this tiny country of Switzerland had found a way to keep war away from its soil through neutrality. Neutrality protected us by prohibiting us from taking part in the eternal conflicts which divide the great powers between them, by prohibiting us from joining any warlike coalition, whatever its objectives, whatever its displayed values. It forbade us to sanction. Neutrality was our antidote to the spiral of sanctions. The Federal Council has tragically forgotten this. Welcome to the era of sanctions!

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