If you are one of the many Americans with an offshore bank account with UBS, the largest bank based in Switzerland, your name may be among those reported to the IRS. UBS has admitted that the bank has been conspiring to defraud the United States and the Internal Revenue Service. The bank will pay $780 million to settle the case. From 2002 to 2007, Americans hid a total of $20 billion from the IRS and avoided paying $300 million each year in taxes.
In exchange for protection from indemnity for the bank’s senior executives, UBS is turning over a small percentage of identities from the 19,000 bank accounts under investigation and closing the accounts of its American clients.
The tradition of secrecy within Swiss bank accounts apparently dates back to the Middle Ages.
A Swiss Bank Is Set to Open Its Secret File, Lynnley Browning, New York Times, February 18, 2009.