German, Swiss tax deal on the fritz Friday, 23 November, 2012 Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, voted against implementing a tax deal that was supposed to end years of dispute over German accounts in Swiss banks. The deal would have allowed Swiss banks to transfer withholding taxes to Germany on behalf of their clients without revealing their identities. Hopes now rest on a meeting of the conciliation committee on December 12. WRS’s Alex Helmick finds out what happens next from reporter Terry Martin in Berlin:
Swiss banks hope for German 'yes' vote on tax agreement Thursday, 22 November, 2012 Despite the continuing crackdown on the Swiss banking sector by foreign governments, the CEO of the Swiss Bankers Association told reporters that foreign clients are not moving their funds in droves to other countries. This comes as Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, prepares to vote on a bilateral tax deal with Switzerland. WRS’s Alex Helmick asks Sindy Schmiegel from the Swiss Bankers Association what type of voting result would be best for the Swiss banking sector:
Adoboli gets 7 years in jail Tuesday, 20 November, 2012 The former UBS rogue trader Kweku Adoboli has been sentenced to seven years in jail after he was found guilty of two counts of fraud. Adoboli was accused of losing Switzerland’s biggest bank more than 2 billion francs at the company’s London offices. It was also the biggest ever fraud case in the UK. Olly Barratt talks to WRS’s Alex Helmick from London where the court issued its verdict and sentence just hours ago. Barratt explained that because of time already served, Adoboli won’t spend the full seven years behind bars:
Bern divided over 'self-declaration' tax strategy Tuesday, 6 November, 2012 Should new bank clients be required to sign a declaration swearing that they have paid all their taxes at home? This idea, known in Bern as so-called “self-declaration,” has been hotly debated recently. It is reportedly part of the “clean money strategy” finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf presented last week. But the government is by all accounts still divided on the issue. Host Dave Goodman asks WRS’s Jordan Davis why self-declaration inspires such ambivalence in Bern:
UBS job cuts 'more than everybody thought' Wednesday, 31 October, 2012 Ten thousand jobs will be shed over three years at UBS. The banking giant announced a massive restructuring which will focus almost exclusively on downsizing the investment bank. It will cost Switzerland 2,500 jobs while the rest are likely to be in the U.S. and the UK. The figures have shocked even the most gloomy analysts. But what are the implications for Swiss banking as a whole? Economist and journalist Beat Kappeler talks to WRS’s Dave Goodman:
UBS announces massive job cuts Tuesday, 30 October, 2012 UBS has announced massive job cuts after posting a net loss of over 2 billion francs in the third quarter. The Swiss number one bank plans to cut up to 10,000 positions over the next three to five years. That’s in a bid to return over 3 billion francs in cash to shareholders. Around 2,500 hundred jobs will be pulled in Switzerland.
Hundreds of Americans give up passports Thursday, 25 October, 2012 The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland says hundreds of Swiss dual citizens have given up their American passports in what he calls a “big phenomenon” now in the country. Donald Beyer told the business paper the Handelszeitung that stricter enforcement of U.S. laws make having a U.S. passport less attractive. He said the relationship with Switzerland only has one problem: American justice officials trying to pursue tax evaders without infringing on Swiss laws. The paper asked Beyer why the American relationship was so much better with Liechtenstein, to which he replied that the principality made a decision to break from black or gray lists, and adopted a “clean money strategy” very early.
UBS exec in charge of investigating 'rogue' trades testifies Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 The damage done by alleged rogue trading at Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, could have been much worse according to testimony at the trial of Kweku Adoboli in London. Adoboli is accused of fraudulent trades and activity that cost the bank more than two billion francs, but one bank executive said it could have been more than 12 billion. Reporter Catherine Drew reports from London:
Injunction stops handover of Credit Suisse names to U.S. Thursday, 27 September, 2012 A court in Geneva stopped banking giant Credit Suisse from turning over the name of a bank employee to American tax authorities in an emergency injunction, until the sides reconvene. A first set of documents from Credit Suisse have already been sent to the US. The temporary injunction means this second wave of documents that may contain some employee names will be on hold. Alec Reymond is the lawyer representing the Credit Suisse employee in this case. He explains his satisfaction at the court’s decision to WRS’s Alex Helmick:
UBS boss expresses anger in court over unbooked trade Friday, 21 September, 2012 After a week into the London trial of a former UBS trader accused of a multi-billion dollar fraud, a mixed picture emerges from prosecutors and defense attorneys. One side alleges that the defendant Kweku Adoboli was a master fraudster, while the other says Adoboli’s boss turned a blind eye to his activities because it was bringing in short-term profits. WRS’s Alex Helmick speaks to reporter Olly Barratt in London, who says that Adoboli broke down into tears at one point:
'People still upset by high pay packages' Wednesday, 19 September, 2012 The question of so-called fat cat salaries is back in the headlines. According to a new survey published by the Demoscope Institute—over three quarters of Swiss want to see a cap on top managers’ pay More than 60 percent of those asked also said they think the state has a duty to fix a limit on top managers’ pay. The figures come as voters gear up to have their say on the “Minder initiative”—a nationwide referendum is expected in March next year. To remind us of what’s at stake and what exactly will be on the ballot, WRS’s Dave Goodman talks to economist and commentator Beat Kappeler:
'Rogue' UBS trader risked incurring 12 billion dollars in losses Friday, 14 September, 2012 An alleged UBS rogue trader has gone on trial in London. Kweku Adoboli is accused of causing losses of 2.3 billion dollars in a series of trades between 2008 and 2011. The court has been told he exceeded his trading limits at the London office of Switzerland’s biggest bank, all in an attempt to secure a larger bonus and boost his ego. Reporter Olly Barratt joins WRS’s Alex Helmick to fill in the details:
What 'grouped requests' mean for banking secrecy Friday, 14 September, 2012 It’s been a week of bad news for defenders of Swiss banking secrecy. On Tuesday, UBS Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld received a $100 million reward for telling authorities about the bank’s efforts to help U.S. clients hide their money. And on Wednesday, MPs gave up the fight to stop what are known as so-called “group requests”—that means it’ll be even easier for foreign tax authorities to get information on suspected tax evaders. WRS’s Jordan Davis has been watching the Federal Palace this week and WRS’s Dave Goodman asked him to explain what was new about grouped requests: