The United States’ ongoing hunt for tax cheats will be putting a crimp in some clients’ quarterly portfolio reviews. UBS financial advisors who have clients outside of the country where they do business have been instructed to stay put by the firm.
According to a firm spokesman, the travel ban took effect April 1st for all “client-facing staff” and will remain in effect until “a comprehensive review of the policy and compliance framework for its international wealth management offering” is complete. The firm is “conducting the review given the international scope and complex regulatory environment of UBS’ international wealth management business,” according to the statement.
No doubt, the IRS’ ongoing civil complaint against the firm inspired the ban. The IRS filed a civil action against the firm on February 19th, one day after UBS settled with the SEC and the Department of Justice resolving criminal and regulatory investigations of the firm’s cross-border business. As part of that settlement, UBS paid a $780 million fine and agreed to hand over the names of nearly 300 clients. But the IRS wants more. It is seeking the names of 52,000 American UBS clients—names that the firm contends are protected by Swiss privacy laws. (According to the WSJ, Steven M.
Rubinstein, an accountant in Boca Raton, Fla., is the first among the names handed over to the IRA to be formally charged. He was charged last week with filing a false income-tax return and detained pending a bond hearing.)
In other UBS news, the firm announced on April 3rd that it will be depositing $22 billion in toxic assets into a fund being created by the Swiss National Bank, which will result in a $300 million charge to the company’s first quarter earnings—due out May 5.