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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Swiss caught in German/U.S. pincer movement?

Coinkydink? . . ..

UBS Faces U.S. Tax Evasion Probe; Employee Detained
Clients pulled a net 12.8 billion francs ($12.1 billion) from UBS's asset- and wealth-management units in the first quarter, the first withdrawal in almost eight years as the bank's writedowns swelled to $38 billion. German prosecutors said in March they're weighing a criminal investigation into whether UBS helped clients evade taxes.

``UBS has been hit by a perfect storm,'' said Edwin Merner, who oversees $2 billion at Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo. ``Clients may run away if they think they'll leak information to tax authorities in Germany and the U.S.''

UBS fell 1.5 percent to 34.7 francs by 1:47 p.m. in Swiss trading. The bank said yesterday it plans to cut about 5,500 jobs, including as many as 2,600 at its investment-banking unit, which had 18.2 billion francs of first-quarter losses. Chief Executive Officer Marcel Rohner told analysts he expects ``tough business conditions'' to continue.

Washington Upset Over Iran-Europe Energy Deal
May 5, 2008 | From
Europe ignores U.S. calls for tighter sanctions on Iran by pursuing a gas deal.

Today, Swiss energy giant EGL is set to sign a contract with Iran agreeing to purchase €18 billion worth of gas starting 2011. The potential deal comes in quick succession after the revelation in April that Austrian energy company omv signed letters of intent to buy €22 billion of gas from Tehran.

Swiss bank's manager held in U.S. tax probe
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- UBS said Wednesday that a senior manager was briefly detained in the United States as part of an investigation into whether the Swiss bank helped U.S. customers evade taxes.

Swiss banking giant UBS is under investigation
Swiss banking giant UBS is under investigation
over possible tax offenses in the United States

UBS said the employee was briefly detained as a material witness and was still in the United States.

"Our understanding is that the respective employee, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing by the U.S. government, will remain in the United States pending discussions with the U.S. authorities regarding resolution of his status as a witness," the company said in a statement.

UBS spokesman Serge Steiner said that the employee had the full support of the bank and that "at the moment he is in the United States until his status as a witness is clear."

He declined to provide details about the man or his detention.

The company says the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Switzerland's largest bank concerning its cross-border business.

The probe focuses on whether UBS helped its clients evade U.S. taxes between 2000 and 2007.

The company said the SEC was examining whether Swiss-based UBS client advisers engaged in activities that triggered an obligation for UBS Switzerland to register with the SEC as a broker-dealer or investment adviser.

Swiss banks refuse blame for foreign [German] clients' tax evasion

Swiss banks cannot be expected to police foreign clients' tax affairs, one of the country's top banking officials said Monday, rejecting German demands for greater cooperation to catch tax evaders.

The president of the Swiss Bankers Association laid the blame for tax evasion squarely at the feet of governments that demand too much of their citizens' income.

"Countries which worry about tax evasion of their citizens should have a good think about the way they tax their people," Pierre Mirabaud told journalists in Geneva.

The European Union, in particular Germany, has been pressuring Switzerland to crack down on EU citizens who hide money in Swiss banks in order to avoid paying higher taxes at home.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the 27-nation bloc, fiercely protects the privacy of banking customers, including foreigners who have deposited more than 1 trillion Swiss francs (US$950 billion; €640 billion) in its vaults.

"It's necessary to clearly show Germany and the European Union where their sphere of influence ends and where our sovereignty begins," Mirabaud said, adding that his members don't regard themselves as responsible for their clients' actions.

"We are not a tax authority and we are not a police authority," he said.

Leading Swiss politicians and bankers reacted with outrage earlier this year when it was revealed that German intelligence had purchased confidential information on bank customers in neighboring Liechtenstein. Mirabaud said at the time that Berlin had used "Gestapo" methods to acquire the data, but later retracted his comparison to Nazi Germany's secret police.

The information led to a series of high-profile raids against individuals and businesses in Germany, as well as further investigations by authorities in Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Switzerland, like Liechtenstein, provides no judicial assistance to foreign authorities in cases of tax evasion because it is considered an administrative offense subject only to fines rather than a crime punishable by a jail sentence.

A visit last week by German chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the tax issue failed to change Switzerland's stance on the matter.

Mirabaud said criticism of Switzerland was misplaced, and largely driven by competitors jealous of the Alpine nation's success as a leading center for international finance.

"For any Anglo-Saxon newspaper, it's much easier to attack Switzerland than the United Kingdom or the U.S.," he said.

Mirabaud insisted that Switzerland has some of the world's strictest rules against money laundering and has done much in recent years to shake off its reputation as a safe haven for dictators to stash their funds.

Millions of dollars (euros) hidden in Swiss accounts by the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and Philippines strong man Ferdinand Marcos have been returned to their governments, and Swiss authorities are seeking to do the same for money deposited here by former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

But on the matter of tax evasion, Mirabaud said the solution is for countries to demand less from their citizens.

"Humans being what they are, if the tax burden becomes too high there will always be tax evasion," he said.

World Jewish Congress wants Swiss to cancel Iranian gas deal

The president of the World Jewish Congress said Tuesday he wanted Switzerland to cancel a multibillion-dollar Swiss-Iranian natural gas deal because it threatens Israel and the US.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes deals with Europe, despite American sanctions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes deals
with Europe, despite American sanctions.

Ronald Lauder, a billionaire cosmetics magnate, said the deal signed by Swiss Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey in Tehran last month has angered the WJC because of Iran's hardline president and because it comes at a time when the United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.

"Maybe that money that Switzerland is paying to Iran will some day be used to either buy weapons to kill Israelis or buy weapons to kill Americans or buy missiles to be able to deliver nuclear weapons," he said.

"I'd like them to cancel it, yes," Lauder told reporters in the Swiss capital. But he said he did not want to exert pressure on the Swiss government.

pincer movement

a movement by two [or more?] separate bodies of troops converging on the enemy.

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Anonymous moonkoon said...

"Well, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did! :-)"

I did! I did!
The thieves are bickering amongst themselves.
"The centre cannot hold."

Sat May 10, 08:05:00 am BST  

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