Monday, August 11, 2008

Running From The IRS?

UBS AG may report tomorrow that private-banking clients removed funds for the first time in almost eight years, according to Bloomberg.

Estimates are that clients probably withdrew a net 5 billion Swiss francs ($4.6 billion) in the period.

Former UBS private banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, gave enormous amounts of confidential information to US authorities about Americans hiding money in Switzerland. It may be a lttle late to avoid an investigation for those who had accounts with UBS, but you can be very sure the withdrawn money is now sitting with a bank that does not have branches in the U.S.

As Felix Salmon points out, "The problem with UBS, from a private-banking perspective, is now that it's too big, and too global. So long as Swiss banks stayed in Switzerland, the Swiss government certainly wasn't going to ask any questions about their clients. But UBS has a presence in dozens of important jurisdictions around the world, and its clients in those countries simply can't assume any more that their assets and personal information are safely being kept away from prying eyes in Zurich."

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