August 19, 2009
Monique Perry Danziger, +1 202 293 0740 ext. 222
WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) applauds the disclosure of information on 4,450 American UBS clients, and urges the US government to pursue American tax-evaders at other offshore financial institutions. GFI is a Washington, DC-based organization that promotes increased bank transparency around the globe.
“This is a serious blow to Swiss banking secrecy,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker. “From now on, it’s going to be very difficult for any American evading taxes to trust a Swiss bank to keep his or her identity secret.”
While certainly a step in the right direction, the settlement – which calls for the disclosure of information on 10,000 of the 52,000 American accounts at UBS – does not require the Swiss banking giant to pay a fine.
“Ideally, I would have liked to see UBS pay a fine, and I would have liked to see the disclosure of all 52,000 accounts,” continued Baker. “Nevertheless, these accounts hold $18 of the $20 Billion dollars in question – a major victory for the IRS and the American taxpayer.”
Moreover, GFI urges the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Department of Justice to keep up the fight – employing the tactics used in this case to other offshore financial institutions. As many tax evaders have started to turn themselves in over the summer, it’s become clear that UBS is not the only complicit institution: Credit Suisse GroupAG,Julius Baer HoldingAG, Zürcher Kantonalbank and Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) have all been implicated in recent weeks.
“To ensure this does not happen again, it is crucial that the US continue to pursue tax-evaders wherever they may be,” Baker added. Every year the United States loses an estimated $100 billion to tax evasion, and the developing world is losing ten times that amount. The UBS case is just one example of how banking secrecy abets illicit financial practices and confounds attempts at good diplomacy.”