UBS: "Selling Tax Evasion as a Service"

UBS World Headquarters in Downtown Zurich

UBS World Headquarters in Downtown Zurich

From Bloomberg:
Under threat of prosecution, UBS in February agreed to turn over about 250 names of Americans suspected of tax fraud.

We’ve discussed this matter on TRB before, but frankly the longer this thing festers, the more it’s gonna piss me off.

UBS has this enormous “Wealth Management” business here in the US and then according to the US Government, they’ve augmented it by selling “Tax Evasion as a Service” to reel in even more high net worth clients.  Considering the fact that as a financial advisor and broker, I have to get approval from a compliance officer or a regulator to mail out a birthday card to a client or wipe my nose, I find it disgusting that we even allow this rogue company to operate on American shores and compete with legitimate American companies in light of what we now know.

Now the UBS matter threatens to out thousands of U.S. tax evaders as prosecutors demand that the bank hand over account information on 52,000 other customers. The case puts at risk treaty negotiations over which crimes the Swiss will and won’t help the U.S. investigate.

As a result, UBS now has this choice: It could find itself prosecuted under U.S. law if it doesn’t name more names, or under Swiss law if it does. Either way, it suffers a possibly fatal wound.

This one’s fairly simple.  UBS and their American clients come clean and split the dollar figure owed to the IRS, and in return, we allow them to stay.  If not, both UBS and their tax-evading clientele can decamp for their alpine wonderland post-haste, leaving the advisory business here in the US open to fair competition.

UBS sent private bankers to U.S. art auctions and regattas to find rich Americans, reel them in as depositors and advise them on setting up sham companies and bogus trusts to shield their money from the tax man, the bank now admits.

And from what I’ve read, many of these “private bankers” weren’t even licensed as registered representatives or advisors.  We’ll never be serious about regulation on The Street if we continue to allow for an upper class of untouchables, European or not, to basically do whatever they want and answer to no one.

Clean it up or move it out, UBS.

Sources:

UBS’s Tax Deals (Bloomberg)

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