Senior UBS Official, Key Donor Shares Some of Obama's Down Time
By Michael D. Shear
MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. -- One of President Obama's golfing buddies Monday was a top donor to his campaign and the president of a bank at the center of a U.S. investigation into illegal tax shelters.
Robert Wolf, the president of UBS Americas, a Swiss-based bank, joined Obama at the elite, and difficult, Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. Deputy press secretary Bill Burton described the two men as "friends."
According to news reports, Wolf and Obama met late in 2006 as the then-Illinois senator was about to launch his presidential bid. Wolf raised more than $250,000 for Obama's presidential bid, according to a Post report last year.
But Wolf's firm was caught up last year in a Senate probe of financial firms that attempted to shield millions of dollars in offshore accounts from U.S. taxes.
Last August, the Post reported, "The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations completed its report on UBS's role in helping wealthy investors shield money from federal taxes. Bank spokeswoman Rohini Pragasam said the donations were "categorically not
connected" to the Senate inquiry. The bank also is under scrutiny by the IRS and the Justice Department."
Just last week, though, the bank announced a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service. In a release, the bank said the settlement will affect about 4,450 accounts, adding, "UBS will send notices to affected US persons encouraging them to participate in the IRS's voluntary disclosure practice."
"This agreement helps resolve one of UBS's most pressing issues," UBS Chairman Kaspar Villiger said. "I am confident that the agreement will allow the bank to continue moving forward to rebuild its reputation through solid performance and client service."
Obama golfed 18 holes with Wolf and two others Monday, spending about five hours on the links. He left the golf course at about 6 p.m. Eastern time, passing people who waved on the way home.
Seen along the way: horses, ponds, lots of greenery, one sign welcoming Obama family, and gas advertised at $3.27 a gallon.
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