Despite the minor matter of losing twelve billion dollars in the first quarter, UBS has pledged to continue sponsoring the London Symphony Orchestra until 2010. Said non-executive chairman Richrd Hardie: “To pull out at a time like this would be terribly easy, but I would say that if we did that, our reputation would be shot.” He’s right, you know. Had UBS pulled their money from the symphony, its time honored legacy of forthright behavior and “doing the right thing” would have been summarily shot to shit. As a refresher course, let’s revisit some of the bank’s reputation-building acts of courage over the last ten (ish) years:
-January 1997: A night watchman at the Union Bank of Switzerland (as UBS was then known), found the bank historian destroying archives compiled by a subsidiary that had extensive dealings with Nazi Germany, in direct violation of a recent Swiss law protecting such material. UBS acknowledged that it had "made a deplorable mistake," but maintained that the destroyed archives were unrelated to the Holocaust.
-May 10, 2004: UBS fined $100 million by the U.S.Federal Reserve for illegally transferring funds from an account set up by the Federal Reserve at UBS to Iran, Cuba and other countries presently under a U.S. trade embargo.
-April 2005: UBS losesZubulake v. UBS Warburg, a discrimination and sexual harassment suit. Case was seen as a landmark in the realms of e-discovery, document retention, computer forensics, and human resources (UBS had destroyed relevant e-mails after the litigation hold had been in place.)
-May 17, 2005: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) alleged that UBS had played a role in the 2004 Black Monday stock market crash which followed the National Democratic Alliance government’s defeat in the general elections. SEBI's ruling barred UBS from issuing or renewing participatory notes for a period of one year.
-October 18, 2005: Three African-American employees filed a class action lawsuit against the company in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging racial discrimination in hiring, promotion and other employment practices. The three plaintiffs in Freddie H. Cook, Sylvester L. Flaming Jr. and Timothy J. Gandy v. UBS Financial Services, Inc., claim that segregation and discrimination in job assignments and compensation were widespread and the firm had done nothing to diversify its workforce. The lawsuit also claims offices operating in Largo, Maryland and Flushing, New York were illegally created to serve African-Americans and Asian-Americans respectively, and that the firm’s management frequently ridiculed the Largo branch office and its staff, referring to it as a “diversity” office.
-March 1, 2007: Mitchel S.Guttenberg, an executive director in the firm's equity research department, is charged along with 13 other individuals from various firms with insider-trading fraud of more than $15 million.
UBS to Keep Backing London Symphony Orchestra, Even After Loss [Bloomberg]