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Nachrichten, Switzerland

UBS America Turned Into a 'Criminal Organization'


"The energy devoted by UBS representatives to breaking the laws of another country, a country that is by all means a democracy - is startling, even shocking."


By Patrik Etschmayer


Translated By Patrik Etschmayer


August 18, 2009


Switzerland - Nachrichten - Original Article (German)

The New York headquarters of the Union Bank of Switzerland: According to a deal signed by the bank and the Justice Department, UBS will fork over the data associated with 4,450 American clients - putting a significant dent in Switerland's famed bank secrecy.


REUTERS NEWS VIDEO: Switerland agrees to reveal names of America clients of UBS, Aug. 20, 00:01:04RealVideo

The plea agreement is 16 pages long and deals mostly with legal details, such as waiving the right to a proper trial - just what you'd expect to see when someone realizes that it would be best to confess so the prosecutor can dictate his conditions. Chief among which is the full disclosure of all documents and correspondences related to the crime.


Also mentioned in the document is that that the penalty was doubled due to the sophisticated methods by which the crimes were committed.



[American client of UBS] John McCarthy's plea agreement with prosecutors may cost him a $400,000 to $800,000 fine (twice the amount of the still-to-be-determined damages), and perhaps prison time. But there are accomplices as well, including the Union Bank of Switzerland [UBS]. When there's talk of "sophisticated methods," this refers to the processes described by McCarthy in his confession and the documents UBS handed over earlier this year, which are referred to in the appendix of the plea agreement.


In these documents, UBS shows every sign of being a criminal organization, helping tax cheats move money surreptitiously skimmed off of transactions conducted in the United States by way of the Cayman Islands, and deposited in a specially established Hong Kong front company account. McCarthy's UBS adviser and a Swiss attorney recommended by UBS showed him a variety of ways to hide even more money from the U.S. government - be it in a private fund in Liechtenstein, a bank account in the British Virgin Islands or a Swiss insurance policy.


One may argue one point or another and say this is just one individual, this is peanuts, or whatever. But this is only one of the first cases. The energy devoted by UBS representatives well into 2008, to breaking the laws of another country, a country that is by all means a democracy - is startling, even shocking.



McCarthy was assured by UBS representatives that many U.S. citizens incorrectly asses their incomes and simply skim money off the top. It's certainly possible that this was a lie and that McCarthy is an isolated case. But that's very hard to believe: The routine and speed with which this customer was set up with a complex web of secret accounts and even a bogus corporation almost leads to a singular conclusion: UBS had established and cultivated a business model that was routinely pressed into service.



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Tribune De Geneve, Switzerland: Switzerland Escapes America's Fangs 


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Which raises another question: What did UBS management know about all this? Is it really just a few rogue bankers that with great secrecy developed their own little operations unit inside UBS? If this were actually the case, one would have to ask what [former UBS chairmen] Marcel Ospel and [current chairman] Peter Kurer have been paid so handsomely for? Particularly since their pay is supposed to be tied to performance. In the aftermath of the billions that have been lost in recent years, this is a question that must be asked in any case.


Of course thousands of UBS employees - the vast majority - have done a good job in recent years. They were law-abiding and did nothing wrong. But from some level on up, integrity, morality and respect for the law seem to have gone out the window, while an incredible arrogance of power and a sense of being masters of the universe vaporized any reason that may have remained.


These people dragged UBS from being a flagship bank into a basket case requiring a government bailout that threatened to pull down the entire national economy. And now its senior officials are mixed up with criminal activities, as well. It's high time for Swiss justice to tackle the problem. Or do crimes stop being crimes when they're committed by "systemically important" pillars of society?
































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 24, 3:45am]



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