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UBS, U.S. try to settle out of court

Caitlan Reeg Jul 13, 2009
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UBS, U.S. try to settle out of court

Caitlan Reeg Jul 13, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Shares of the Swiss banking giant UBS are up this morning. The bank was supposed to face off in court today with U.S. officials who say secret Swiss bank accounts allow Americans to dodge taxes. But yesterday, the two sides asked to delay the trial until next month while they try to reach a settlement. Marketplace’s Caitlan Carroll tells us what’s at stake here.

Caitlan Carroll: UBS already paid almost $800 million in fines, and it released the names of 250 clients to settle a U.S. criminal case back in February. The bank was accused of helping American clients evade taxes. Now, the federal government wants the names of more than 50,000 account holders.

Raymond Baker is director of Global Financial Integrity, a Washington think tank. He says if the U.S. prevails, the payoff could be substantial.

Raymond Baker: You can make a calculation of how much in taxes has been foregone, and that would be in the billions of dollars.

The Swiss government says it’s illegal for the company to release the names.

Michael Malloy is a law professor from the University of the Pacific. He says squealing also goes against Switzerland’s financial fiber.

Michael Malloy: Bank secrecy for them is as much a fundamental right as, you know, fourth amendment protection from search and seizure would be here.

Switzerland may be known for chocolate and cheese, but secrecy is the real key to its economy.

I’m Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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