Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Swiss parliament rejected a bill designed to resolve a dispute over undeclared bank accounts held by U.S. citizens, potentially setting the stage for American prosecution of the country’s banks.
Members of parliament’s lower house voted 123 to 63 against the bill, which would have allowed Swiss banks to cooperate with the U.S. and to settle a long-running dispute over wealthy American tax evaders. The government has said it has no plan B, in the event of the bill failing to pass.
Switzerland wants to prevent the indictment of another of the country’s banks. Wegelin & Co. was indicted last year and pleaded guilty in January to helping U.S. taxpayers hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service. The bank had taken over clients from UBS AG, which avoided prosecution in 2009 by admitting it aided tax evasion, paying $780 million and handing over client names.
“I don’t think the Americans will really start a wave of indictments — such a scenario is unlikely,” said Peter V. Kunz, a professor of comparative law at the University of Bern. “I do however think one or other banker could face charges. But no one really knows. The legal risks and the legal uncertainties will remain for the Swiss financial sector. How it all will end is totally up in the air.”
2009 study posted for filing
Contact: Kim Barnhardt
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Commonly used pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines do not appear to be effective for preventing pneumonia, found a study by a team of researchers from Switzerland and the United Kingdom http://www.cmaj.ca/press/pg48.pdf.
In many industrialized countries, polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccines (PPVs) are currently recommended to help prevent pneumococcal disease in people aged 65 and over and for younger people with increased risk due to conditions like HIV. Studies have shown conflicting results regarding the efficacy of PPV.
The study, a systematic review and meta-analysis, looked at 22 clinical trials, reviews and meta-analyses and more than 100,000 participants from countries in North America as well as India, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Unlike other similar studies the authors examined the reasons why different clinical trials produced different results. They found that the quality of the studies substantially affected the results. When only high quality trials were included, there was no evidence that PPVs could prevent pneumonia. The study adds to the ongoing debate around effectiveness of the vaccine.
“Policy makers may therefore wish to reconsider their current recommendations for PPV, especially where routine pneumococcal conjugate immunization has been introduced,” conclude Dr. Matthias Egger from the University of Bern, Switzerland and coauthors.
However, in a related commentary http://www.cmaj.ca/press/pg18.pdf, Dr. Ross Andrews and coauthor from the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, Australia state that the researchers’ conclusions exceed the evidence presented. They caution that there should be no change in vaccine policy in countries that recommend PPV to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease