Swiss bank accounts are kind of like steroids in sports: lots of ridiculously wealthy people use them and everybody knows that these people use them, but they’re still a big no no. We joke about how they’ve become such a regular part of the national conversation, but any connection to them becomes a PR liability for big-name clients. Just ask Mitt Romney.
For this reason, we find ourselves amused by the incredibly earnest apology issued today by Patrick Odier, a spokesperson speaking on behalf of the entire Swiss banking industry. He wants to let the world know that his clients are very, very sorry for encouraging Americans to avoid paying domestic taxes on the money that they worked so hard to earn (if by “worked so hard” you mean “established high-yield savings accounts”). Here’s his explanation:
It was not because we lacked skills and knowledge that we found ourselves in these unfortunate situations. It was because we acted wrongly and we displayed wrong conduct. I regret this all the more because we have damaged the reputation of the entire Swiss financial center.
Yes, this apology came after Switzerland’s decision to (begrudgingly) assist the U.S. in identifying tax cheats, and that came after a lengthy investigation that forced the nation’s oldest bank to close and threatened to wreck the industry’s credibility. But Odier sounds downright masochistic here. Have any crisis comms pros ever witnessed such a self-effacing apology?