Thursday, February 19, 2009

UBS To Pay $780 Million In Tax Conspiracy Case


UBS AG agreed to pay $780 million for helping U.S. customers avoid taxes, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Switzerland's largest bank also agreed to turn over the identities and accounts of some of its U.S. clients to the American government, in an unprecedented move that could shine a light into the country's secretive banking industry, the DOJ added.

UBS entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. by impeding the Internal Revenue Service. The government will dismiss the charges if the bank fulfills its obligations under the agreement, the DOJ explained.

Chart of UBS

"A veil of secrecy has been pulled aside," John DiCicco, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Tax Division, said in a statement. "We will continue to aggressively pursue those who shirk their federal tax obligations or assist others in doing so."

In June, a U.S. District Court gave the IRS permission to serve UBS with a so-called John Doe summons. The summons demands information that would help track down U.S. taxpayers with UBS Swiss bank accounts that they've been trying to hide from the IRS. Usually, such summonses have to specifically name individuals, so the broader John Doe version has the potential to uncover many more possible tax evaders.

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