UBS Being Investigated For Sidling Up To Belgian Customers And Asking If They Were Interested In Some Candy Avoiding Taxes

In other words, the Swiss bank is being investigated for being a Swiss bank.
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A Belgian magistrate judge is investigating whether the Swiss bank UBS engaged in fraud, money laundering and other crimes in an effort to help wealthy individuals avoid taxes, the Brussels prosecutor’s office said on Friday. UBS is suspected of having directly approached Belgian customers, without going through its Belgian subsidiary, to encourage clients to engage in transactions meant to evade taxes. UBS acknowledged the inquiry, but it said little more. [Dealbook]

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It's Possible A Bunch Of Employees At UBS Deutschland Helped Clients Evade German Taxes

The bank has ran its own internal investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing but prosecutors are still going to take a look-see themselves. The investigation, being conducted by economic-crimes prosecutors in Mannheim, was started in March against unnamed employees after a tax inquiry in the southwestern state of Baden Wuerttemberg identified suspicious transfers of funds from Germany to Switzerland, allegedly executed by a German taxpayer with the assistance of the Frankfurt-based office of UBS Deutschland AG...In May, prosecutors seized more than 100,000 computer files and other records during a search of the bank's Frankfurt office, Mr. Lintz said. Tax investigators are assessing this material to identify evidence that bank officials acted as accessories to tax evasion, he said. In its statement, UBS Deutschland said that "an internal investigation into the specific allegations has not identified any evidence of misbehavior by UBS Deutschland AG." It said it is cooperating with the criminal investigation. Several investigations of UBS clients in Germany are under way by local prosecutors independent of the Mannheim investigation, Mr. Lintz said. He declined to say how many clients are under investigation. A report in the Thursday edition of German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten said thousands of bank clients are under investigation. Mr. Lintz declined to confirm that figure. Germany Probes UBS Staff on Tax-Evasion Allegations [WSJ]

UBS Whistleblower's $104 Million Award Poses Interesting Conundrum For Would-Be Snitches

Remember Bradley Birkenfeld? He's the guy who single-handedly made the U.S. government’s case against UBS and forced the Swiss bank to hand over the names of thousands of tax cheats, which resulted in the US scoring $780 million from UBS and may have inspired some 33,000 Americans to "voluntarily disclose offshore accounts to the IRS, generating more than $5 billion." And yet, despite his assistance, Birkenfeld wasn't immediately thanked for a job well done. Instead, he was sentenced to forty months in prison (fair-ish, considering he showed a few clients how to avoid paying taxes himself) and told to piss off by the Internal Revenue Service, from whom he sought an award, because he was "not forthcoming about his own role in the scheme," even as a Justice Department attorney admitted that "...without Mr. Birkenfeld walking into the door of the Department of Justice in the summer of 2007, I doubt as of today that this massive fraud would have been discovered by the US government" (or as his lawyer put it, "They didn't know how to spell UBS until he showed up. He didn't just give them a piece of the puzzle. He gave them the entire puzzle"). Now, after doing 32 months at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, getting let out early on account of "good-time credit," and living in a halfway house in New Hampshire, Birkenfeld has finally been thrown a bone. Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS AG banker who told the Internal Revenue Service how the bank helped thousands of Americans evade taxes, secured an IRS award of $104 million, an amount his lawyers said may be the largest ever for a U.S. whistle-blower. Birkenfeld told authorities how UBS bankers came to the U.S. to woo rich Americans, managed $20 billion of their assets, and helped them cheat the IRS. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2008, a year after reporting the bank’s conduct to the Justice Department, U.S. Senate, IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission. He was released from prison Aug. 1...Birkenfeld, 47, worked at Zurich-based UBS, the largest Swiss bank, for five years. He sought a reward from the IRS of as much as 30 percent of any taxes the agency recovered as a result of his whistle-blowing activities. Clearly this whole thing should stir up a few questions inside you all, chief among them: how much money would it take to get you to befriend or get yourself employed with some rogue people so you can blow the whistle on them? Would you do any time for it? If so, how much? And are we talking Club Fed or a place where your roommate spoons you every night? UBS Whistle-Blower Secures $104 Million Award From IRS [Bloomberg]

UBS Concerned With The Company Some Of Its Employees Keep

The following is a (not at all comprehensive) list of things that UBS could legitimately be embarrassed about: - Losing so much money that a rogue trader's $2billion loss barely registered above 'meh' on the Do We Care scale - Awarding 4-figure bonuses to managing directors - Employing a guy who "implored bankers to make a more concerted effort to streamline the firm and likened the strategy to slashing expenses like a 'Jewish shopkeeper'" - Having their entire healthcare team decide Jeffereies is a better place to work - Being scammed by a bunch of ops guys - Pulling a reverse Field of Dreams and spending all the money it didn't have to build a 103,000-square-foot trading floor, in a 700,000-square-foot building, that no one wants to work on - Getting no respect from the people of Stamford, who'd prefer "a nice big Costco" move into the space - Having to distribute a step-by-step guide re: how to tie a tie And yet, rather than feel some measure of humiliation about, for instance, the PowerPoint admission that their grown men employees don't know how to dress themselves or taking the time to send out a memo that reads "Subject: Hey, Body: Stop losing so much fucking money!", the bank's execs are going with this: ...Robert Wolf, a top UBS executive in New York, is among President Obama’s leading fund-raisers, building more than $500,000 for his re-election so far this year. A regular presence at big campaign fund-raisers, Mr. Wolf, who is 50, golfs and vacations with Mr. Obama and is known for e-mailing friends photos of himself with the president. While such a close relationship might have been envied by other bankers in 2008, when much of Wall Street was infatuated with Mr. Obama and donated heavily to his presidential bid, it has been making other UBS executives uneasy of late...With media reports pointing out that one of the bank’s top executives is also one of the Obama campaign’s top bundlers — a word that one UBS executive said “makes people’s hair stand on end” inside the bank — the Swiss banking giant has decided to take an unusual step. The bank’s powerful group executive board in Zurich recently presented Mr. Wolf with an edict directing him to report all his media inquiries to the firm’s press office. Since then, most of the requests to speak to Mr. Wolf have been rejected, according to people briefed on the situation, resulting in a much dimmer limelight for Mr. Wolf...“You will clear any and all communications with the press as far in advance as possible,” the directive to Mr. Wolf read. “With respect to activities outside UBS you will, on a best-efforts basis, keep corporate communications informed.” Bosses Reign In Banker Who Golfs With Obama [Dealbook]