Levin Statement on Swiss Rejection of UBS Settlement

WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., made the following statement today regarding the Swiss rejection of the UBS settlement:

“The U.S.-Swiss treaty that was rejected today by the Swiss lower house would have allowed UBS to provide the names and account information for U.S. clients suspected of opening Swiss accounts to evade U.S. taxes.  Rejection of the treaty is an international embarrassment that can be laid at the feet of Swiss legislators who are willing to continue to allow their banks to facilitate U.S. tax evasion.

“It was two years ago, in July 2008, that the United States first issued a summons to UBS to get the names of an estimated 52,000 U.S. clients with hidden Swiss accounts that had not been reported to the IRS.  The Swiss government intervened to block the summons and prevent disclosure of the names.  After a year of delay, in August 2009, a settlement was reached in which the United States agreed to give up its right to all 52,000 names in exchange for getting prompt access to information on key accounts, estimated at 4,450 or less than ten percent of the total.  Now the Swiss, despite multiple U.S. concessions and having strung out the UBS case for two years, have failed to live up to their end of the bargain. 

“The United States should reject any further attempts by the Swiss to delay the UBS case.  It is time to move forward with the summons in court and force UBS to provide the names and account information for all 52,000 suspected U.S. tax cheats.

 “This travesty underscores the need for legislation that I’ve introduced which, among other measures, would empower the U.S. Treasury Secretary to take action against any foreign bank or jurisdiction that impedes U.S. tax enforcement by, for example, prohibiting U.S. banks from accepting wire transfers or honoring credit cards from the foreign bank facilitating U.S. tax evasion.”