Updated 14:30 UBS shares Monday fell to a historic low of CHF10.30, down 3.5% since Friday closing. Swatch’s Nicolas Hayek told Swiss financial paper Agefi that his company has pulled some of its money out of Credit Suisse and UBS for fear they might go bankrupt, and put some of it into La Poste. He refers to the bankers as “robbers and idiots.”
Zurich, Switzerland (TSR, Fre) – UBS is accusing the US government of ignoring Swiss law, under which Swiss banks must operate or lose their licenses, in its response to a US court in Florida. The bank says that the court, which 19 February began civil proceedings against it to obtain the names of 52,000 American holders of UBS bank accounts, is expecting its employees to put themselves at risk of serious penalties including lengthy prison terms.
TSR reports that since the 19th the bank has been caught in a legal crossfire between US authorities who insist it must turn over the names, and Swiss authorities, including the Federal Administrative Tribunal, which 20 February forbade Finma, the Swiss banking supervisory body, to turn over any names to US authorities while legal sovereignty issues are under discussion.
As it turns out, the bank had immediately given names of the 250 account-holders, under investigation for fiscal fraud, to US authorities Wednesday 18 February after reaching an agreement with the US to provide them, with the understanding that in exchange the US would not ask for further names – which the US did, in a separate civil, rather than criminal, case the next day.
Le Temps, which is covering the UBS and political situation closely, reports that Swiss federal authorities were caught offguard by the timing of the US moves, adding to confusion over the legal situation. The newspaper also looks closely at a 300-page document published Thursday 19 February as part of US court records: it is the declaration of Daniel Reeves, an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agent and includes internal UBS documents and correspondence which appear to be damning, particularly to UBS’s claims that authorities high in the bank were unaware of some activities.
Peter Kurer’s name appears in the documents, which were put together with help from Bradley Birkenfeld, a former bank employee who was arrested and is cooperating with US officials. Swiss politicians interviewed by German-language paper Sonntag are calling for Kurer, UBS chairman, and Marcel Rohner, the CEO, to resign (details, 24 Heures, Fre).