Mar 9, 2009
United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) is due to pay a fine of 780 million dollars. It also gave the U.S. court overseeing a lawsuit the names of 250 clients who avoided paying U.S. taxes by keeping their money in a Swiss bank. The judge also demanded that UBS turn over the names on another 52,000 account holders, supposed to be worth 15 billion dollars.
This conflict between UBS and the IRS has lasted for months. In fact, last October UBS had already turned over the names of 4,000 U.S. clients that the IRS said were avoiding taxes.
The number of secret accounts and the billions of dollars at stake illustrate how much money is hidden in Switzerland thanks to its system of numbered accounts. But Switzerland – profiting from the fortunes its bank account owners want hidden – is hardly an isolated case in the international financial system.
The whole world financial system is protected by secrecy – and it’s completely legal.
Even when nation states sometimes poke into some matter of fiscal fraud, they protect the banks and their big clients from the curiosity of the population.
The only way to end bank secrecy – and not just to collect taxes – is to impose in Switzerland and everywhere the right of bank employees and other workers to make public any bank operations they know about. That’s the only way there can be true control over the use of money. If bank secrecy is not ended, the holders of capital will continue to harm the working population.