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Old 10-14-2009, 12:56 AM
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rickoff rickoff is offline
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Obama and the Swiss bankers

Originally Posted by future pather View Post
I wonder what will be the result of Obama now preventing the Swiss bank accounts situation.
Actually, while Obama appears to be taking the credit for moving against the Swiss banks, the impetus to do so resulted from a mid July, 2008 standing-room only hearing on tax haven banks and tax compliance held by the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank and the world’s largest private wealth manager, with $1.9 trillion in client assets and nearly 84,000 employees in fifty countries, including 32,000 in the United States, was one of two exposed in the results of the Congressional Committee’s six-month investigation. The investigation proved substantial wrongdoing by UBS and its employees, and disclosed that 54,000 accounts held by US citizens and corporations were likely being used for tax evasion purposes with direct assistance from UBS in that endeavor. UBS had been aware of the investigation during its 6 month span, of course, and was looking for ways to soften the blow of legal actions likely to occur against them afterwards. Along comes Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Americas. Wolf emerged as Obama’s most copious cash collector in New York City, hosting two high-dollar cocktail parties, making countless calls, and harvesting more than $500,000 for Obama's presidential campaign. In the world of dirty politics and campaign finance, those who raise big bucks for a candidate are in a position to ask favors, and to expect to receive them. That's how the political machine works. UBS knew they were in big trouble, and who better to help soften the impact of the Congressional investigations of their wrongdoings than the perceived winner of the 2008 presidential race? In the end, under the Obama administration, UBS agreed to a settlement whereby they would disclose account information regarding just 4,500 accounts (about 8% of the 54,000 accounts the investigation deemed as dirty). In addition, UBS agreed to a 780 million dollar payment which admitted wrongdoing but dismissed any further claims or action against UBS or its employees. It sounds like a lot of money to us, but to UBS and its owners it is a mere slap in the wrist. If the case against UBS and the 54,000 accounts held by tax evaders had been aggressively pursued, estimates say that billions of unpaid tax revenue could have been secured by the IRS. Instead, the government agrees to a quick "settlement." Of the 4,500 accounts that will be investigated, it is not likely that investigators will turn up very much. Indeed, the Congressional report on the investigation states, “The Statement of Facts in the Birkenfeld [a UBS banker] criminal case describes additional actions taken by UBS bankers to help U.S. clients manage their Swiss accounts without alerting U.S. authorities. It states, for example, that UBS bankers advised U.S. clients to withdraw funds from their accounts using Swiss credit cards that “could not be discovered by the United States authorities”, to “destroy all off-shore banking records existing in the United States”; and to “misrepresent the receipt of funds from the Swiss bank account in the United States as loans from the Swiss Bank.”440. The Statement of facts also discloses that, on one occasion, “at the request of a U.S. client, defendant Birkenfeld purchased diamonds using that U.S. client’s Swiss bank account funds and smuggled the diamonds into the United States in a toothpaste tube,” presumably so that the U.S. client could obtain possession of his Swiss assets without alerting U.S. authorities.441. It also states that Mr. Birkenfeld and his business associate Mario Staggl “accepted bundles of checks from U.S. clients and facilitated the deposit of those checks into accounts at the Swiss bank” and elsewhere, presumably to assist the clients in making transfers to their Swiss accounts, again without alerting U.S. authorities.442"

The 4,500 affected account holders have had plenty of time, forewarning, and assistance from UBS in eliminating paper and computer trails, and shifting their assets to other locations which are not under fire. Switzerland is just one of a multitude of places where the ultra wealthy power elite has been able to hide their assets and set up corporations to avoid tax liabilities. Here's an example showing how easy it is:
Update: Swiss Bank Accounts; Tax Havens and Cheating the American Tax System Video

Incidentally, Birkenfeld, who was a whistleblower providing nearly all of the government's information in the UBS investigation, received a 40 month prison sentence, while his wealthiest tax evading client, Igor Olenicoff (a California real estate billionaire) was sentenced to two years' probation and agreed to pay $52 million in back taxes, penalties and interest. Two years probation, while whistleblower Birkenfeld gets nearly 4 years in prison? Go figure. This can only prevent other potential whistleblowers from coming forward, of course, and that can only be advantageous to those who want to stay out of the spotlight.


Last edited by rickoff; 10-14-2009 at 01:51 AM. Reason: added info
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