Swiss village wins tax break thanks to billionaire


Residents in the Swiss village of Rüschlikon are celebrating an unexpectedly generous Christmas tax break thanks to billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, the head of commodities giant Glencore, who lives there.

The village council voted this week to cut locally levied income tax from 79 to 72 per cent after finding the municipal coffers had amassed a Sfr60million (£41m) surplus, amounting to Sfr12,000 (£8,300) for each of the community’s 5,200 residents.

The substantial windfall was both a product of Mr Glasenberg’s wealth and the Swiss tax system which obliges taxpayers to contribute to both their local authorities and central government.

The $11bn flotation of the Swiss commodity group, Glencore, in May this year turned Mr Glasenberg into a multi-billionaire.

Rüschlikon, which is on the northern shores of Lake Zurich, does not get as much sun as its super rich opposite number - the so-called "Gold coast" on the lake's southern shore - which is home to countless million and billionaires.Yet it is home to several Glencore executives.

Mayor Bernhard Elsener said after the tax break was approved by the village council the reduction was “directly linked” to Glencore’s flotation.

However he rejected demands from leftwing and church campaigners that the town should donate one million Swiss francs of the windfall to compensate communities in developing countries, which they claim have been adversely affected by Glencore's operations.

The commodities giant has been criticised by environmental and corporate-responsibility campaigners for transactions carried out in Third World countries such as Zambia and Colombia. Glencore's critics argue that it is guilty of encouraging mining companies to plunder poor countries rich in natural rescources but with weak governments.

"The people of Rüschlikon prefer to demonstrate solidarity in private rather than via the muncipality," Mr Elsener said.

The village council approved the tax break after exercising the Swiss direct democracy a system, which dictates that decisions are first taken directly by resident voters on the spot. Mr Elsener said the tax break vote attracted an unusually good turnout of some 424 voters.

Their numbers were increased by protesters from local church and leftwing organisations demanding a Third World compensation payment. The protesters distributed leaflets claiming that Glencore's business practices were "unfair and not sustainable." However their demands were voted down by a large majority.

 Mr Glasenberg's15.8 per cent stake in Glencore was worth around $9 billion on flotation. The South African born executive was granted Swiss citizenship last December and is rated as the country's eighth wealthiest person with a fortune worth between six and seven billion Swiss Francs.

Both Glencore and Mr Glasenberg refused to comment on Ruschlikon's decision to cut taxes. However the company rejected charges that its business practices exploited Third World countries. " Glencore applies strict standards at its operations around the world," a spokesperson insisted.

Swiss observers have pointed out that Ruschlikon has a vested interest in retaining its wealthy residents and doing as little as possible to offend them.

Mr Glasenberg has lived in the village in the canton of Zurich since 1994. Yet if he wanted to retain more of his fortune, Mr Glasenberg could simply move to Canton Schwyz, which starts just a few kilometres along the shores of lake Zurich and boasts the lowest taxes for the rich in Switzerland.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
techResearchers recover 100s of nude photos from second-hand smartphones
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Systems Analyst (Retail)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Up to 20% bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An...

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Technical Manager / Lead - Mechanical.

£43000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading Br...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice