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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UBS Depositors Looking To Bank For Protection

Clients of Swiss banking giant UBS are trying to get the bank to continue to hide their names from disclosure to tax authorities in the United States.

UBS has been using the names of a few hundred UBS depositors (read: tax evaders) as a bargaining chip to avoid the bank's indictment in the U.S. for assisting with tax evasion. UBS claims, apparently with a straight face, that these depositors mislead the bank about whether they were correctly reporting their U.S. taxes. The depositors are claiming, apparently also with a straight face, that UBS mislead them into believing that UBS would report their taxes for them.

In fact, both UBS and these depositors knew what was going on: The depositors were using UBS to commit tax evasion, and UBS was actively assisting them with it by setting up bogus corporations so that the accounts could be held in corporate, not individual, name.

The IRS has estimated that UBS has assisted 17,000+ U.S. citizens to evade taxes. UBS has offered to turn over a few hundred names. But it is unlikely that the IRS will stop there, especially with an incoming Obama Administration that promises to be tough on offshore tax evasion.

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