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  1. Wealth
March 5, 2009

UBS can’t turn over client identities

By Spear's

March 5 (Bloomberg) — An executive for UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, said its country’s laws prevent it from turning over most of the 52,000 customer identities being sought by the U.S. in a lawsuit that seeks to crack down on tax evaders.

From Bloomberg:

By David Voreacos and Ryan Donmoyer

March 5 (Bloomberg) — An executive for UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, said its country’s laws prevent it from turning over most of the 52,000 customer identities being sought by the U.S. in a lawsuit that seeks to crack down on tax evaders.

UBS agreed Feb. 19 to pay $780 million and disclose some client names to avoid prosecution for helping wealthy Americans avoid taxes. The bank has agreed to turn over about 300 names, said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of a Senate panel that held a hearing in Washington yesterday on offshore tax havens.

UBS executive Mark Branson said at the hearing that bank officials “believe that UBS has now complied with the summons to the fullest extent possible without subjecting its employees to criminal prosecution in Switzerland” under bank-secrecy laws.

Branson is chief financial officer of global wealth management at UBS. The U.S. lawsuit seeks to force UBS to provide the names of 52,000 current and former U.S. clients it believes evaded taxes.

The Swiss government recognizes only tax fraud, not tax evasion, as a crime. UBS contends the dispute should be resolved through diplomacy and not the U.S. lawsuit in federal court in Miami.

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To read the full story, visit bloomberg.com
 

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