Wednesday, August 12, 2009

UBS, U.S. and Swiss reach deal on releasing names of possible tax evaders

UBS AG and the U.S. and Swiss governments have worked out agreements to settle a dispute over whether the Swiss bank should be forced to disclose the names of 52,000 wealthy American clients suspected of tax evasion, media outlets reported today.

UBS and the two governments have initialed agreements that will "take a little time to be signed in final form," Department of Justice lawyer Stuart Gibson told U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold during a brief conference call on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

"For U.S. taxpayers it is going to be impossible to hide money in Switzerland and it is just a matter of time that this is the case also for Germans and Britons," Asher Rubinstein, a partner at law firm Rubinstein & Rubinstein, said in a separate story by Reuters.

See also:

- UBS Tax Lawsuit Settled by U.S., Swiss Governments (Bloomberg)

- UBS Welcomes IRS Settlement (Dow Jones Newswires)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Guernsey: low-tax jurisdiction or tax haven?

The New York Times ran an article today about Guernsey's popularity with rich Britons who take advantage of a loophole in British law that allows individuals to become nonresidents for tax purposes but remain citizens as long as they do not spend more than 90 days a year on British soil.

But British authorities are beginning to challenge the application of that loophole, the Times says.

The Times story
cites an estimate by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that "wealthy individuals hold about $6 trillion offshore, resulting in billions of dollars in lost tax revenue for their home countries annually."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Op-ed advocates maintaining strict Swiss financial privacy laws

The president of a Swiss research institution argues today in a New York Times op-ed that Switzerland should maintain its strict banking privacy laws despite pressure from other countries to change them.

". . . Our financial privacy laws are a foundation for individual dignity and basic property rights," says Pierre Bessard, president of the Liberales Institut. "We will not solve the global problem of tax evasion by punishing honest depositors and destroying Swiss traditions."

UBS, Swiss and U.S. reach agreement on info about U.S. clients

UBS and the Swiss government have reached an agreement in principle with the U.S. to give the U.S. information about some American UBS clients who the U.S. maintains are evading taxes through accounts with the Swiss bank, according to media reports.

Reuters reported that, "A U.S. government source told Reuters on Friday he expected UBS not to pay a fine as part of the deal and Swiss newspapers reported the settlement would include the bank handing over 5,000 names of U.S. clients holding secret Swiss accounts -- about 10 percent of the names Washington was after."

The Wall Street Journal reported that UBS and the Swiss government had resolved their concerns about violating Swiss bank-privacy laws by combing through UBS client files and identifying "enough potential fraud to make them willing to hand over information about certain accounts.

"Swiss laws don't provide confidentiality if people engage in fraudulent activities such as setting up accounts with shell companies that lack any real business substance," The Wall Street Journal said.