A very confidential Swiss-based organization close to international Geneva
Bernard J. Wohlwend
Born in early January 1939 and educated in Geneva, Switzerland, Bernard J. Wohlwend is French speaking and the grandfather of two girls and one boy.
Rich of a B.A. (Latin) from ‘College Calvin’ in Geneva, of a LLM (Law Department) and of a specialization in Maritime Law and Administration (Department of Economics) from Geneva University, espoused his still-of-today wife and flew over to New York in early 1962 to win the World. Ended-up selling postcards at the U.N. bookshop. Took advantage in trying and learning American English and cried of joy when, after a few months, he was asked if born in Texas !
Eventually, moved up-stairs and was hired as a Junior Economic Affairs Officer (inland waterway & maritime transport) with the U.N. Secretariat. After about a year of staring over East River from the 26th floor of the Match Box and a first born son having joined the family, moved to technical assistance and, in early 1963, was offered a position of Assistant Resident Representative of the U.N. Development Programme in Afghanistan . . . where nobody wanted to go.
Spent with his family the most beautiful four years of his life in this pure Moslem paradise. Walked the country from West to East and from South to North, from the irrigated lowlands to the foothills of the Himalayas and from the sub-tropical forests to the arid plateaus descending towards the Amu Darya watering the border with the former Soviet Union. Learned kitchen Farsi by ear with the kitchen boys. Providence then brought a second son, at home. Visited Russia, Pakistan and India and discovered the vestige of the Mogol Empire, the only one ever to which the famous Kyber Pass opened-up.
Nourished of the scents of the desert, full of those marvelous fresh fruits and vegetables, but gorged with that strong smelling fat-tail sheep, packed his carpets and astrakhan furs and, one day in early 1967, shortly before the communist revolution, moved to Buddhist South-East Asia, attracted by the flow of the mighty Mekong River and by the opportunity of returning to his original, visceral love for Law.
If the move from New York to Kabul had meant confronting the richest with the poorest, that from Kabul to Bangkok called for a transmigration from Man’s to Women’s World, from the rigor of the Himalayan snows to the delights of the tropical South China Sea. Four and a half marvelous years were spent there as Legal Adviser to the U.N.-sponsored Committee for the Development of the Lower Mekong Basin, an inter-governmental organization embracing the representatives of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet-Nam. Discovered the candid Lao farmer, the proud, wealthy Thai trader, the industrious Vietnamese civil servant and the contemplative Khmer monk. Produced a number of legal studies, in particular on Mekong navigation on the development of the Lower Mekon Basin, and drafted a treaty on the sharing of Lower Mekong Basin water resources among the Committee’s member States, which draft subsequently became the Committee’s Declaration of Policy. Visited the whole of South East Asia, converted to the fabulous Chinese cuisine, learned a few words of Thai and Chinese, soon to be forgotten, and witnessed the glories and miseries of the Viet-Nam War.
Shortly before the invasion of Ankhor Wat by the Red Khmers, the loss of Viet-Nam by the Americans an the total decay of Bangkok, was called in mid-1971 to join the Legal Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., to work in national and international water resources law. So, moved to Rome, Italy, where the whole family was to spend the next nine years in the heart of the Christian World. Translated and edited the French and English sections of the now defunct Organization’s Food and Agricultural Legislation periodic publication, and produced, translated and edited numerous monographs on national, and studies on international, water resources law and administration. Traveled extensively on field missions from Canada through South America, Western and Eastern Africa back to Indonesia and Hindu Bali, assisting a number of governments with their water legislation and functioning as Legal Adviser to a West African inter-governmental organization. Became an addict to Italian food and got to understand that the stronghold of Italian society is “La Mamma”. Did learn Italian, obtained the U.N. Proficiency Certificate in English and Spanish, and had two years of Arabic following which the teacher dropped-out.
Just by the time the boys had reached upper secondary-school, a time when it sounded opportune that they reintegrate Switzerland, their home country, was asked by chance by a prominent Italian industrialist to assist him in the transfer of his pharmaceutical industry to Geneva from where it was to develop into a multi-national company. The move was completed by the mid-1970s and, in mid-1979, he invited the writer to join him and set-up his Corporate Legal Department. This invitation was quickly accepted and the whole family moved back to square one after almost twenty-years of worldwide hitchhiking to settle on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva.
In addition to corporate legal work and to the whole array of R&D, clinical, production, marketing & sale, intellectual property and licensing agreement drafting and negotiations with this fascinating, fast growing company now of some thirty subsidiaries and affiliates in over fifty countries worldwide, considerable experience was acquired in funding and investment undertakings such as introducing an Israeli affiliate on the secondary stock market in New York, structuring R&D limited partnerships in accordance with FDA, SEC and IRS rules under the then prevailing U.S. Tax Shelter legislation, introducing the parent company of the group to the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, and drafting and negotiating related public offering prospectuses, underwriters contracts and corresponding reporting procedures. This was the time of discovering Eastern Christianity and Judaism with which unexpected bonds were to develop later when the youngest son married his charming Jewish wife.
After some years, it became apparent, unfortunately, that the minds of a former international civil servant and of a dynamic, realistic, although tough businessman would never meet so that, by mid-1984, a friendly separation was consummated.
Since then, established as an independent consultant, legal and economic field missions were undertaken for U.N. agencies and inter-governmental organizations in the fields of rice development, drug supplies to health facilities, water resources management, national conservation strategy, the prevention of desertification and environment rehabilitation in several African countries; and a master publication, in English, on the Law of Water Resources was translated into French.
Thanks to a network of prime correspondents worldwide, diversified legal, financial and special support services have been provided to privileged clients in such fields as corporate structures, including directorships and the supply of off-shore companies and trusts, trust and fiduciary services, legal drafting and translations, trading in financial instruments, investment programmes, portfolio management, trading in commodities and, in particular, in precious metals. Such services have been provided to various finance corporations active in the trading of secondary market equity shares, including the drafting of a private offering memorandum and its clearance by the Swiss Federal Banking Commission and the services of Registrar for the companies being so traded; directorships have been taken in a finance company which was created with two subsidiaries in Milan, Italy, as well as with a UK cloth printing company, an Israeli pharmaceutical laboratory and various off-shore companies; collaboration and joint-venture contracts were drafted and negotiated between pharmaceutical industries; native gold from Africa was imported, refined and sold for an investor; the liquidation of five companies limited was consummated under a mandate; foreign capital bonds were redeemed at a prime Swiss bank and confidential accounts made available to the Seller/Investor; and a number of clients have been introduced to prime banks, trusts, brokers, financial traders & investment managers.
After some 20 years back in native Switzerland, packed again and moved definitely to Portugal to spend in peace those few years of retirement still left ahead. Just to keep going, legal drafting and legal translations from French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese into English and from English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese into English are performed for pharmaceutical companies, in particular in the field of Research & Development.
Bernard J. Wohlwend is a College Calvin (Geneva) Alumni, a member of the Society of Swiss University Students, a former member of the Swiss Technical Cooperation, a former staff of the United Nations, a member of the Swiss Section of the International Law Association (ILA), a former Consultant to the Water Resources Committee of ILA, a member of the International Association of Business Lawyers and a former Chairman of the Executive Council of the International Association for Water Law (AIDA).
Sports are limited to swimming, mountaineering and leisure walking. His only non-professional interest is for traditional civilizations and communities.
As to tastes, take it all, the tasty and the plentiful, be it in music, art, food, wines or pipe smoking.
10 rua da Cheia, Chão da Parada, PT 2500-304 Caldas da Rainha Tel. +351-262 83 11 76 Fax. +351-262 83 21 82
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Last update : 14/07/2009