Catherine McLean Freelance Writer

Switzerland sees surge in reports of money-laundering

Published May 14, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

The value of suspected cases of money-laundering in Switzerland soared to a record sum of 3.28-billion Swiss francs ($3.51-billion) last year as regime changes following the Arab Spring led to a big jump in suspected cases from North Africa.

The number of “suspicious activity reports” jumped 40 per cent to 1,625 in 2011, according to the annual report released yesterday by the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS). In financial terms, that was an increase of some 287 per cent from 847-million francs in 2010.

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Bucket list for kids: 50 things to do before they're 12

Published April 22, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

Have your kids made a mucky slide out of mud lately? How about watched two snails race very slowly? Have they ever eaten a crisp apple plucked right off a tree?

These are some of the 50 things that children should do before they’re 11 and three-quarters, according to a new checklist compiled by the National Trust, a charity that looks after historic buildings, gardens and forests throughout Britain.

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Rushing women onto boards is risky business, study says

Published April 5, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

If you’re a young, ambitious woman in the corporate world, you may want to stop reading.

A recent study released by the German central bank found that risk taking within the banking industry increases with more women on an executive board. The same goes for younger executives. In contrast, men who are graying at the temples and executives with Ph.D. degrees reduce the level of risk.

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Where chocolate lovers can find paradise

Published April 3, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

I inspect the little chocolate mountain, its green peak flavoured with absinthe – the anise-tasting spirit that was once thought to drive people insane, and gingerly take a bite. The liquor turns out to be subtle and smooth, another delicious find at the sumptuous Salon du Chocolat in Zurich, which featured treats made with honey, cardamom, violets and even hay.

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How foodies felt their way to Swiss blind dining

Published March 28, 2012 in The Local

It’s lunchtime, but the guests lining up at this Zurich restaurant must first get a briefing on the dining room’s rather unusual rules: cellphones and watches must be stored in lockers, and diners must wait for their waiter to guide them personally to their table.

The diners don’t mind. These strict procedures aren’t the brainchild of some over controlling Maître d’, but instead are aimed at ensuring guests have an authentic and safe experience at this unique restaurant.

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Good times are back for Swiss watchmakers

Published March 25, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

As an assistant brings in box after box, an executive at Swiss watchmaker Century carefully lifts each lid to reveal the stunning watches nestled below.

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More hands across the water with EU-Canada trade pact

Published March 22, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

For the past 30 years, Sutton Special Risk has built a thriving business providing specialized insurance to National Hockey League players and jet-setting executives. It’s one of thousands of small Canadian businesses that focus mainly on the domestic and U.S. markets for their success.

But the Toronto-based company has also tapped into the European market, where it sells insurance in 25 countries. And if a free-trade deal between Canada and the European Union comes to pass, the company could pay considerably more attention to that lucrative region.

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As Europeans retrench, Chinese fill Swiss hotels

Published February 24, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

More than a decade ago, the Swiss were the first Europeans to establish national tourism office in China.

That investment is now paying off. Chinese travellers are flocking to Switzerland, visiting the Alps and buying pricey watches. Once a rare sight in Swiss cities, rising numbers of Chinese tourists are now helping make up for fewer visitors from other European countries.

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) this week reported that the number of overnight stays at hotels and other lodging in Switzerland slipped 2 per cent in 2011.

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Cupcakes conquer Switzerland

Published February 23, 2012 in The Local

When Melanie Studer left England to come home to Switzerland, she brought back a new passion: cupcakes.

As she toiled away at her regular day job, she couldn’t get those little cakes out of her head. She dreamed about opening her own store to serve the cupcake-deprived Swiss, who, like her, typically discover the treat on trips abroad.

“It’s a product that one falls in love with,” Studer says. “One sees it and says, how cute, how pretty.”

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Taiwan 'a missed opportunity' for Canadian companies

Published February 23, 2012 in The Globe and Mail

It's difficult to lure Roots Canada Ltd.'s co-founder Michael Budman away from his beloved cabin in Ontario's Algonquin Park, but last August he packed his bags to travel across the world to Taiwan.

While Taiwan may not be an obvious place to sell beaver-themed gear, it boasts the widest network of Roots stores outside Canada. The company, through its Hong Kong-based partner Li & Fung Ltd., has some 51 outlets scattered across the island.

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