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February 26, 2009

NYT: UBS sued to prevent US client disclosure

By Spear's

UBS was sued on Tuesday in a Swiss federal court by wealthy American clients seeking to prevent the disclosure of their identities as part of a tax-evasion investigation by the United States Justice Department.

From the New York Times:

UBS was sued on Tuesday in a Swiss federal court by wealthy American clients seeking to prevent the disclosure of their identities as part of a tax-evasion investigation by the United States Justice Department.

The lawsuit accuses UBS and Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or Finma, of violating Swiss bank secrecy laws and of conducting what Swiss law considers illegal activities with foreign authorities.

It also named Peter Kurer, the chairman of UBS, and Eugen Haltiner, the chairman of Finma, as defendants.

The suit, filed by a lawyer in Zurich, Andreas Rued, on behalf of nearly a dozen American clients, underscores the growing clash between Swiss banking secrecy laws and those of the United States.

Tax evasion is not considered a crime in Switzerland. Disclosing client names under Swiss law is a criminal offense and can expose bank executives and officers to fines, prison terms and other penalties.

UBS is the world’s largest private bank and Switzerland is the world’s largest offshore tax haven, with trillions of dollars in assets.

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To read the full story, visit nytimes.com

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