No junket to Zurich would be complete without a visit to the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. The Taiwan Civil Government delegation that flew from Taipei to Zurich in January to attend the World Web Forum and World Talent Summit found time for a visit with Martin Naville, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce. Naville was quick to swap business cards with delegation members
Photos of the meeting make it appear that Naville did most of the talking. TCG has been spending money to build a reputation that it is the future of Taiwan and added international conferences to the shopping list along with media sponsorship and event hosting in Washington. Naville was likely explaining the Chamber’s “Global Talent Competitiveness Index”, a checklist for the Global Talent Summit attended by the TCG delegation. The Index rated cities and countries over talent opportunities. Taiwan, under any name, was not represented on the list. The Index ranked locales by income, internet access, research and development expenditures, and the presence of Forbes Global 2000 companies.
The arrests of seven TCG leaders in May for political fraud by the Republic of China in-exile have put a strain on the advocacy group. TCG seeks to replace the ROC with American assistance. Taiwan’s unresolved sovereignty since the end of World War II has spawned a multitude of groups across the political spectrum against the ROC. TCG, about ten years old, has become one of the most vocal, and well-funded.
ROC prosecutors purportedly seized $4.3 million dollars during the May raid. The Taiwanese news media was quick to jump on the seizure as evidence of fraud. One Chinese newspaper ran a simulated picture of cash in a closet to illustrate its story. Four million dollars is a lot of money, but is it proof of guilt? TCG members argue the money was the group’s war-chest. TCG has been spending lots of cash since the election of Donald Trump.
TCG insiders claim the group has been repeatedly denied banking services in Taiwan and was forced to keep the money in cash or dispersed in private accounts. If true, that may explain TCG’s interest in business in Zurich, world headquarters of secret bank accounts. Who better to advise on such matters than the Chamber of Commerce?
Speculation aside, one thing is clear, TCG was out to gain influence in both politics and business. Martin Naville was happy to pose for pictures with the delegation and gave the group a warm welcome. TCG’s photo album does not show any visits to financial institutions; however, in the secret world of Swiss banks, cameras may not be welcome.
The TCG visit to the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce was set up by lobbyist Neil Hare, a former Chamber executive in the United States. Hare declines to discuss his clients and will not answer questions about Taiwan Civil Government.