US and Switzerland Release Criteria for Info-Exchange in UBS Settlement

November 17th, 2009

Today, the United States and Switzerland released the long-awaited annex to the settlement agreement in the UBS case.  The annex details the criteria that needs to be met before the exchange of tax information can be met under the August 2009 settlement.

In a statement released by the Justice Department this morning, the US describes the criteria as follows:

The criteria cover accounts of various amounts and types, including bank-only accounts, custody accounts in which securities or other investment assets were held and offshore company nominee accounts through which an individual indirectly held beneficial ownership.  These criteria allow the IRS and the Justice Department to target the most egregious foreign account holders.

However, Senator Carl Levin, a leading advocate in the fight against secrecy jurisdictions was disappointed by the annex, stating:

“…the U.S.–Swiss Annex disclosed today, designed to compel disclosure of the names of U.S persons with Swiss accounts at UBS, is very disappointing.  It complicates and muddies what should have been a straightforward agreement by UBS and the Swiss Government to disclose Swiss accounts hidden from the United States by U.S. accountholders.  UBS admitted last year that it “participated in a scheme to defraud the United States” out of tax revenue.  Since then, UBS has been prohibited by its government from simply turning over the names of the 52,000 U.S. clients suspected of participating in that tax evasion scheme with UBS.  Instead, the tortured wording and the many limitations in this Annex shows the Swiss Government trying to preserve as much bank secrecy as it can for the future, while pushing to conceal the names of tens of thousands of suspected U.S. tax cheats.  It is disappointing that the U.S. government went along.”

The full text of the criteria can be read here…

Written by Clark Gascoigne

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