Senator Recommends That UBS Be Shut Down For Helping Thousands Of U.S. Citizens Cheat On Their Taxes

Another update to the disgruntled computer technician story: Sen. Carl Levin told ABC News that Swiss banking giant UBS’s banking license should be revoked until the bank “cleans up its act.” The bank is accused of arranging “undeclared” accounts for an estimated 19,000 US citizens, effectively “hiding” $18 billion from the IRS.

“I don’t think that any bank that goes to the extent that UBS has gone through to avoid doing what their agreements with the United States require them to do, should be allowed to continue to do business unless they clean up their act,” Levin said.

The Senator also revealed a list of “sneaky tricks” that the bank was using to skirt U.S. laws and provide services that it was not licensed to offer. Here’s the list:

Tax Haven Bank Secrecy Tricks

  • Code Names for Clients
  • Pay Phones, not Business Phones
  • Foreign Area Codes
  • Undeclared Accounts
  • Encrypted Computers
  • Transfer Companies to Cover Tracks
  • Foreign Shell Companies
  • Fake Charitable Trusts
  • Straw Man Settlors
  • Captive Trustees
  • Anonymous Wire Transfers
  • Disguised Business Trips
  • Counter-Surveillance Training
  • Foreign Credit Cards
  • Hold Mail
  • Shred Files

Prepared by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, July 2008.

One UBS banker has already plead guilty and admitted to (among other things) smuggling diamonds purchased using a US client’s Swiss bank account into the country by hiding them inside tubes of toothpaste. Classy!

Sen. Levin: Shut Down Giant Swiss Bank UBS
Investigation Reveals Secrecy Tricks Allegedly Used by Swiss Bankers
[ABC News]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.