Dreams do come true

August 21st, 2009

I’ve spent the last couple of days telling journalists and writing blogs saying that the US must go against the Swiss bankers and lawyers who have set up abusive arrangements for US residents. And USA Today has confirmed that is exactly what they’re doing:

A Swiss banking executive and a Swiss lawyer have been accused of helping American clients of Swiss banking giant UBS and other suspected tax evaders hide assets in offshore accounts, prosecutors said Thursday.

Hansruedi Schumacher, the former head of UBS’ cross-border banking business, and Matthias Rickenbach, a Zurich attorney who represents American investors, were charged with conspiring to defraud the IRS and U.S. government.

According to the indictment, Schumacher and Rickenbach helped clients hide and control funds in offshore accounts listed in the names of foreign firms and accessed via credit or debit cards not linked to the U.S. They allegedly gave clients cellphones that enabled American clients to contact them without being detected, and hand-delivered cash to the investors.

The two are believed to be in Switzerland.

And they won’t be alone in facing charges it seems:

Martin Press, a Fort Lauderdale attorney whose law firm represents UBS clients, said prosecutors have been building cases by quizzing tax evaders who apply for an IRS leniency program about their advisers.

“The clients are specifically asked, ‘Who got you into this?’ and ‘What did your accountant know?’ ” Press said.

As I said yesterday:

I think it high time the US pursued this [course of action]. …

First, without doubt they have to get very worried for their security. That means serious prosecution risk has to be created.

It looks like that is exactly what the US intends.

I hope they consider the other options I outlined as well.

Written by Richard Murphy

Follow @FinTrCo