Destination ‘filthy rich’: Where the wealthy go to get even richer
WELCOME to Switzerland.
A mountainous country where nothing comes cheap but many of the world’s filthy rich come to grow their fortunes.
The ongoing relationship between the wealthy and Switzerland looks set to only strengthen as the super rich get richer, according to a report released on Friday.
That’s despite morose economic growth, a turbulent stock market, high cost of living and tax evasion scandals ending banking secrecy.
In its annual analysis of the fortunes of Switzerland’s 300 richest people, the Bilan magazine said the exclusive club members, including the likes of rock and soul legend Tina Turner, have swelled their combined wealth by six billion Swiss francs ($5.8 billion, 5.5 billion euros) to reach a record 595 billion Swiss francs.
Topping the list for the 14th year in a row was the family of Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who this year counted an accumulated fortune of between 44 and 45 billion Swiss francs — two billion more than last year.
Kamprad, 89, moved back to his native Sweden in 2013, but his two sons who run the flatpack furniture empire remain in Switzerland and hold Swiss nationality.
Coming in second was Swiss-Brazilian food magnate Jorge Lemann, who hiked his fortune by three billion francs to between 28 and 29 billion, Bilan said.
His 3G Capital fund controls the likes of Budweiser and Stella Artois, Burger King and HJ Heinz.
South African national Ivan Glasenberg, who heads debt-laden mining and commodities giant Glencore, meanwhile saw his personal fortune shrink by 3.5 billion over the past 12 months as the company has found itself pummelled by a global commodity price collapse.
His fortune now amounts to a mere two billion francs, Bilan said, which has been drawing up its list since 1988.
“The conditions for the richest people have not been the best this year,” the magazine acknowledged.
In 2014, Switzerland’s multi-millionaires and billionaires had a much better year, with 25 billion francs added to their coffers during the 12-month period.
Still, more than a third of the country’s most wealthy, amounting to 132 people, count their fortunes in billions.
According to Forbes, there are 1,826 billionaires globally.
Some of the wealthiest people and companies in the world own Swiss bank accounts which has resulted in Switzerland amassing excess capital to use for investment purposes.
The country’s banking sector, famous for its centuries-old private banks such as Pictet, Mirabaud, and Lombard Odier, held $2 trillion (CHF1.87 trillion) of offshore wealth last year, according to a 2015 report by Deloitte.
Meanwhile, many of the Alpine state’s cantons, such as Zug and Bern, have become home to scores of the world’s wealthiest people thanks to special tax regimes for rich foreigners who live but do not work in Switzerland.
Over the years, these special deals — which tax wealthy immigrants according to the value of their properties in Switzerland rather than their global assets or income — have lured in luminaries ranging from racing driver Michael Schumacher to singer Tina Turner and Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg.