SynopsisProsperity on the one side, misery on the other: just how directly the two can be connected comes to light in Luzia Schmid’s film about the meteoric rise of her hometown of Zug upon becoming a tax haven.
Swiss filmmaker Luzia Schmid traces the rise of her hometown of Zug and its townspeople, who have succeeded in becoming very rich by converting their town into one of the world’s leading tax havens. Even her immediate family is implicated in Zug’s politics and economy. And yet a tax haven is also part of the wider economy and thus we also learn about international rivalries in the tax game: the invention of the first shell company, the carefully guarded banking secrecy and the development of offshore tax shelters. “Race to the bottom” is a phrase often used to describe this destructive momentum, which, with tax scandals involving companies like Apple, Amazon and Starbucks, reached its low point in the financial crisis of 2008. In Zug, success came with its fair share of problems, too: shady commercial lawyers and commodities dealers settled down here, plundering Third World countries from their safe base in Switzerland. The town came to symbolise the injustices of this world. Luzia Schmid seeks out answers about morals and motivation and charts the town’s position in the international tax game. A business film with a personal take on the rise of a Swiss tax haven evolves into a radical and subtle reflection on double standards and collective repression.