Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The sanctity of the secret Swiss bank account — an icon of global finance — is under growing pressure in a tax investigation due to come into public view on Wednesday at a U.S. congressional hearing.
Senator Carl Levin, a long-time foe of offshore tax havens estimated to deprive the U.S. government of $100 billion in annual revenues, will convene the hearing before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that he chairs.
Levin will grill Mark Branson, a top officer at UBS AG, over a tax case in which the U.S. government wants the giant Swiss bank to disclose the names of thousands of rich U.S. clients suspected of dodging U.S. taxes.
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The Michigan lawmaker told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday that the hearing will also focus on a U.S.-Swiss tax treaty he described as having “very, very limited value.” He said, “You can’t rely on the Swiss. That’s the bottom line.”
Branson will appear before the Senate panel for the first time since UBS last month acknowledged responsibility for helping U.S. clients conceal assets from the U.S. government, which is cracking down on tax dodgers with offshore accounts.