Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Economist published an article about UBS, my former employer, under this title in April 2008. Ruefully, things at UBS have hardly improved since then.
The bank lost a record amount of money in the fourth quarter of 2008, it was revealed a week ago. So much, in fact, that once the Swiss government bailed it out with extra funds, it caused the Swiss budget to register a deficit.
But that isn't the end of the grim news, alas.
It was revealed today that UBS has agreed to pay $780 million (in fines, interest, penalties, and restitution, according to the Associated Press) to the U.S. government in a plea bargain of sorts, as it seeks to quell allegations that it conspired to defraud the IRS of taxes owed by numerous bigwig clients. Purportedly, UBS has agreed to turn over its U.S. customer account information to the federal government immediately, which may go to the nexus of the secretive accounts some of these people hold in Switzerland, one of the world's most notorious offshore tax (evasion) havens.
What a fall from grace from just several years back, when UBS was revered as being the world's most prudent wealth management brand.