Canton of Zurich – Justice reduces Urs Schwarzenbach’s fine


The penalty of 4 million francs pronounced in 2018 against the billionaire Urs Schwarzenbach for tax evasion is reduced to 2.5 million.

Urs E. Schwarzenbach, in addition to the fine imposed on him, must pay VAT retroactively.


The Supreme Court of the Canton of Zurich reduces the fine owed by the billionaire Urs Schwarzenbach for tax evasion when importing works of art. The sanction of 4 million francs pronounced in 2018 was reduced to 2.5 million.

Like the District Court of Bulach, the Supreme Court finds that the art collector and owner of the Hotel Dolder has been guilty of repeated tax evasion.

But it set the fine at twice the amount of VAT that Urs Schwarzenbach should have paid when importing the most expensive work of art. For its part, the District Court relied on the totality of the evaded VAT.

“Great criminal energy”

In a recently published judgment, the court found that Urs Schwarzenbach displayed “great criminal energy” during the fraudulent importation of the works. Most of the time, he brought the objects by private jet. When the way was clear – that is to say when there was no customs officer on the horizon – he discreetly disembarked his booty.

The billionaire has knowingly exploited the possibilities offered by his trips by private jet, the court said. The judgment is not final and may be challenged before the Federal Court.

Tax and VAT arrears

The General Directorate of Customs blamed the 72-year-old collector for having imported 123 works into Switzerland without declaring them. In 27 cases, he declared them at a lower value than the reality.

In addition to the fine, Urs Schwarzenbach must pay VAT retroactively. In October 2018, the Federal Supreme Court set the amount due at 11.4 million francs.

According to the magazine “Bilanz”, the fortune of this former currency broker would amount to more than a billion francs. During the tax procedure, however, he argued that he was an AVS annuitant and that his finances were “at their worst”.

An assertion that is perhaps not without merit since the State also claims a catch of 270 million francs for taxes on income and wealth.


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