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Tax Inquiry Shifts to Small Swiss Banks

(Your tax dollars have been certainly wasted on investigating me :). Opened a UBS account in 1976 for 100 francs and have endured all sorts of stuff for years….)

December 23, 2010
Tax Inquiry Shifts to Small Swiss Banks

The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into Swiss regional banks that it suspects may have helped scores of wealthy Americans evade taxes despite a broad crackdown on Swiss secrecy, two people briefed on the investigation said on Thursday.

As part of the investigation, the latest effort to pry open the often opaque Swiss system, federal authorities are looking at Wall Street banks that provide banking services to the regional companies, known as cantonal banks, these people said.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, they said that the Wall Street banks might have been used by the regional banks to pool client money so that individual clients could not be identified by the United States authorities.

The investigation signals that Swiss bank secrecy is alive and well despite a crackdown on UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank and one of the world’s biggest. UBS paid a $780 million fine in 2009 and agreed to turn over 4,450 names of American clients — a rare rip in the traditional veil of Swiss secrecy.

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