Find Post Investigations On:
Facebook Scribd Twitter
Friendfeed RSS Google Reader
» About This Blog | Meet the Investigative Team | Subscribe
Ongoing Investigation

Top Secret America

The Post explores the top secret world the government created in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Ongoing Investigation

The Hidden Life of Guns

How guns move through American society, from store counter to crime scene.

Have a Tip?

Talk to Us

If you have solid tips, news or documents on potential ethical violations or abuses of power, we want to know. Send us your suggestions.
• E-mail Us

Categories

Post Investigations
In-depth investigative news
and multimedia from The Washington Post.
• Special Reports
• The Blog

Reporters' Notebook
An insider's guide to investigative news: reporters offer insights on their stories.

The Daily Read
A daily look at investigative news of note across the Web.

Top Picks
A weekly review of the best
in-depth and investigative reports from across the nation.

Hot Documents
Court filings, letters, audits and other documents of interest.

D.C. Region
Post coverage of investigative news in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Washington Watchdogs
A periodic look into official government investigations.

Help! What Is RSS?
Find out how to follow Post Investigations in your favorite RSS reader.

Hot Comments

Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

Recent Posts
Bob Woodward

The Washington Post's permanent investigative unit was set up in 1982 under Bob Woodward.


Archives
See what you missed, find what you're looking for.
Blog Archive »
Investigations Archive »

Have a Tip?
Send us information on ethics violations or abuses of power.
E-Mail Us »

Other
Investigations
Notable investigative projects from other news outlets.
On the Web »
Top Picks »

UBS: 'Protect the Banking Secrecy'

POSTED: 04:08 PM ET, 03/ 4/2009 by Derek Kravitz

A standoff between U.S. congressional leaders and Swiss bankers comes to a head today as a senior executive at UBS, which is in hot water over allegations that it helped some U.S. investors avoid paying income taxes, testifies on Capitol Hill.

The last time Mark Branson, chief financial officer of Swiss-based UBS's global wealth management and Swiss bank division, testified before the Senate panel, he "apologized and announced the bank would stop offering cross-border private banking through its unregulated units to U.S.-domiciled customers," according to Reuters. Branson also said the bank was working with U.S. officials to identify clients who may have engaged in fraudulent activities.

But today's hearing before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations ratchets up the pressure on Swiss bank officials to divulge more details on their American clients.

Last month, UBS agreed to surrender the identities of up to 300 clients as part of a $780 million fraud settlement, invoking the country's unusually-stringent secrecy law to deny giving up the other names.

The Justice Department then filed a lawsuit alleging that as many as 52,000 wealthy Americans used secret accounts with UBS to avoid paying income taxes back home (an earlier Senate estimate put the number of questionable accounts at 19,000).

Also at issue during today's hearing is a 2000 memo to UBS from Chicago-based law firm Baker & McKenzie that discussed ways the bank could keep American clients without violating federal laws that require investments to be disclosed for income taxes. The law firm reportedly warned UBS against advising its clients to place investments under specially created offshore companies, according to USA Today.

"This could be viewed as actively helping our clients to evade U.S. tax, which is a U.S. criminal offense," the memo stated. "What we can do is suggest that clients seek external professional advice and offer them a choice of approved service providers if they request it."

During his opening remarks, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) called the Swiss banking policy a "cynical charade" and cited UBS figures saying that in 2004, 32 different client advisers had traveled to the United States, seeing 3,800 clients per year on average. Levin called it a "stunning fact" and also quoted an internal UBS document from 2006, entitled "U.S. International Trading," that laid out its policy regarding foreign intervention by agencies such as the IRS: "Protect the banking secrecy."

See C-SPAN for a live stream of today's UBS hearing.

By Derek Kravitz |  March 4, 2009; 4:08 PM ET Economy Watch
Previous: 'Just Give Me the Ticket' | Next: Bush Aides to Testify on Atty. Firings; Justices Rule Against Wyeth; Senate Keeps PMA Earmarks

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company