February 19th, 2009
11:40 AM ET

A Swiss bank is set to open its secret files

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/06/30/irs.swiss.accounts/art.irs.form.pd.jpg]

Lynnley Browning
New York Times

In the hush-hush world of Swiss banking, the unthinkable is happening: secrets are spilling into the open.

UBS, the largest bank in Switzerland, agreed on Wednesday to divulge the names of well-heeled Americans whom the authorities suspect of using offshore accounts at the bank to evade taxes. The bank admitted conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and agreed to pay $780 million to settle a sweeping federal investigation into its activities.

It is unclear how many of its clients’ names UBS will divulge. Federal prosecutors have been examining about 19,000 accounts at the bank, but UBS ultimately may disclose the identities of only a few hundred customers.

But to some, turning over any names at all heralds the end of the secret Swiss bank account, whose traditions date to the Middle Ages.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Raw Politics
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. jarrod

    i think we should sieze the bank and lists them on the ten most wanted lists for economical failure in the current state we are in globally i can't beleive 780 million is fine. and the fact that they said if they didn't cooperate what could happen to their economy at this point who cares they spit in our face by allowing these people to hide their money and not let it be tax. while they are at it they should investigate who and how much those bankers that came here 3800 times made you figure in travel and cost of business @ 10,000 per transaction say $38,000,000 and maybe more

    February 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Amon

    I hope the deal doesnt effectively let UBS get away with a paltry fine, it shouldnt be allowed to continue operations without a tangible fine, this fine is a pittance when compared to the kind of assets in manages and probably also to the kind of amounts it hid from IRS.
    Shame on the govt for letting big corps go away with minimal fines though.

    February 19, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  3. JAZ

    If 52,000 "high wealth" US taxpayers are unveiled... How many billions in tax dollars just went into the US treasury? I'm excited to see the list and hope we get a check soon. Woo hoo... we hit pay dirt!

    February 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Eugenia - San Francisco

    I hope you will follow up on this and list the people who are a part of it. So basically it's ok for everybody else besides the rich to pay their taxes.

    I just can't see how anybody can be shocked about the state that our country is in.

    But you pay all your taxes, right Cooper? no off shore accounts?

    with love,

    February 19, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  5. Teresa

    I wonder if Madoff is one of its clients. This has been going on for so long, why do they want to mess up a good thing for the rich folks?

    "The bank admitted conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and agreed to pay $780 million to settle a sweeping federal investigation into its activities." Is this where we are getting the money for our stimulus package?

    ...money is a cruel master and a kind servant...

    February 19, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  6. earle,florida

    The Swiss are just a pin-prick in a basketball regarding the size of off-shore countries,and shadow banks set up to hide unscrupulous assets,and accounting by huge corporations/conglomerates! But,believe it or not there once was a legitimate reason for these shadow off-shore money centers. That being expatriots,in unstable countries,via civil wars/coups left fleeing with what capital they had ,knowing there was a safe haven until stabilities resided to norm!

    February 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  7. Richard

    We should take all the money from the accounts that are held by Americans that was trying to hide their money and use it to help pay for the Stimulus Plan

    February 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  8. JC- Los Angeles

    It's wonderful to see that Toto is alive and well and about to pull back the curtain once again on the connected few.

    After exposing all our leaders, executives and politicians as worthless, money-grubbing hacks and frauds, it's great to see that Toto has now decided to go international.

    February 19, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  9. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    I guess, one can never be too greedy--amazing-–when money talks how the truth remains hidden.

    February 19, 2009 at 11:52 am |