Swiss Official Allegedly Accepts Bribes from U.S. UBS Client
July 29th, 2009
July 29th, 2009
Swiss authorities are investigating allegations that a Swiss official accepted a bribe from an American UBS client. From Reuters:
Swiss prosecutors are investigating allegations that an unamed Swiss official took a bribe from a U.S. client of UBS, they said on Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors said in a statement the tax authority had filed charges against unknown persons which it was now investigating without giving further details.
Word of the investigation came just one day after a former UBS client plead guilty in US court to filing false tax returns and evading taxes on roughly $8 million. The client, Jeffrey Chernick, also admitted that he had been convinced by his Swiss banker to bribe Swiss government officials in order to keep them from disclosing his accounts.
What’s even more interesting, however, is the fact that Swiss authorities have announced that they cannot currently pursue the case because the allegations are not specific enough. From the Wall Street Journal:
Switzerland’s justice department said Wednesday that allegations a high-ranking Swiss official was bribed by a Swiss bank client aren’t specific enough to pursue a case.
The Justice Ministry said it is closely following the allegations, which emerged as a result of a legal case between Swiss bank UBS AG (UBS) and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and will carefully evaluate any further information which becomes available, but that allegations aren’t enough to action.
The veracity of these allegations and the outcome of the US case against UBS may be still be uncertain, but one thing is clear – this is a bad development for Switzerland on two levels:
The reputation of Swiss banking has been permanently tarred over the past couple of years – and for good reason. Banking secrecy enables terrorists, tax evaders, and reckless AIG executives. Slowly, the true colors of banking secrecy are beginning to show.