Western Europe: Empire at Bernie-Voltaire

Not since Voltaire came to town in 1758 to escape persecution in Geneva has the French border village of Ferney—subsequently renamed Ferney-Voltaire—seen so much excitement. The current fuss is being caused by another refugee from Geneva, controversial Bernard Cornfeld, 40, an American expatriate who has built his eleven-year-old Investors Overseas Services into the largest mutual-fund sales organization outside the U.S. When Bernie Cornfeld decided to move his Swiss-based I.O.S. across the border eight months ago, wags mindful of the 18th century precedent started referring to the town as "Bernie-Voltaire."

The financier may merit the honor even more than the philosopher....

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