Friday, August 5, 2011

Another UBS Related Enabler is Indicted (8/5/11)

Yesterday brought another UBS enabler indictment against Gian Gisler, a resident of Zurich, Switzerland.  Here is the USAO SDNY Press Release.  I haven't had time yet to analyze the details and will probably wait until I get a copy of the indictment (if anyone has it please email it to me).  In the meantime, I just cut and paste the part of the press release summarizing the indictment:

From the mid 1990s until late 2008, Gisler was a client adviser at UBS. From early 2009 until at least 2010, Gisler was a client adviser at two different asset management firms (Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 1 and Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 2). From the mid-1990s through at least 2010, Gisler allegedly conspired with various U.S. taxpayers and others to ensure that his clients could hide their Swiss bank accounts and the income they generated from the IRS.

In 2001, UBS, one of the Swiss banks at which Gisler helped his U.S. taxpayer clients hide accounts, voluntarily agreed with the IRS to collect information from account holders concerning the true owners of accounts at those banks. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Gisler, together with his U.S. taxpayer clients and others, used sham entities created under the laws of countries other than the United States to hide from the IRS the Swiss bank accounts, and the income they generated, and to circumvent the commitments that UBS and, later, other Swiss banks, had made to the IRS.

In 2008, when it became publicly known that UBS was being investigated by law enforcement in the United States and UBS began to exit the business of assisting U.S. taxpayers in maintaining undeclared accounts in Switzerland, it became impossible for Gisler to continue assisting his U.S. clients in maintaining undeclared accounts at UBS. As a result, Gisler left the employment of UBS in late 2008.

Beginning in early 2009, Gisler started working for Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 1. At that time, he transferred the accounts of his U.S. taxpayer clients from UBS to other Swiss banks and managed their accounts while working at the firm. Later in 2009, Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 1 itself began to exit the business of assisting U.S. taxpayers in maintaining undeclared accounts. Gisler then left the firm and went to work for Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 2 and transferred the management of his U.S. taxpayer clients there so he could continue to manage their undeclared accounts.

In addition, Gisler provided other services to U.S. taxpayers. For example, on multiple occasions while in Manhattan, Gisler took more than $100,000 from at least one U.S. taxpayer who wanted to make a deposit into his undeclared UBS account, and provided it to other U.S. taxpayers who wanted to make withdrawals from their UBS accounts, so that no cash crossed the U.S. border.

The collective maximum value of the assets in undeclared accounts beneficially owned by U.S. taxpayer clients of Gisler, and that were allegedly opened with Gisler's assistance or managed by him, was more than approximately $215 million.
One thing I would speculate about, however, is that there may be some sealed indictments in the hope of getting some of these guys if they try to enter the country.  Don't know that.  Just speculating.  If that is true, there may be a lot of Swiss and other country bankers at risk who will, I am sure, think twice about coming to the U.S.  (I noted earlier that two Swiss banks had forbidden their bankers from traveling to the U.S.)  On the other hand, perhaps DOJ Tax and the USAOs are publicly announcing the indictments for maximum pressure on all the constitutuents in the offshore account schemes (from governments to banks to enablers) and not really looking to be a major drag on criminal prosecution, court, probation office, and bureau of prison resources.  One hell of a statement can be made by the mere indictment.  Merely the possibility of sealed indictments, whether or not they exist, may be enough to achieve the enforcement objective.


  1. Thank you for posting these. It makes for interesting reading.

    I also read in Wikipedia that the Swiss agreed to recognize tax evasion as a crime for foreign citizens (but not for their citizens of course).

    I quote:

    Swiss law distinguishes between tax evasion (non-reporting of income) and tax fraud (active deception). International legal assistance used to be granted only with respect to tax fraud. Under pressure from the OECD and the G20, the Swiss government decided in March 2009 to abolish the distinction between tax evasion and tax fraud in dealings with foreign clients. Switzerland adheres to the international OECD standards with regard to administrative assistance in tax matters (decision to take over the OECD Model Tax Convention, in particular Article 26).

    For Swiss taxpayers the distinction remains in place. Although not considered a crime and hence not prosecuted in a penal court, tax evasion is a serious offence under Swiss tax law and hefty financial penalties apply. In domestic prosecutions, banking secrecy may be lifted by court order in cases of tax fraud or particularly severe cases of tax evasion.

  2. To Anonymous August 5, 2011 8:19 PM

    Just keep in mind that the Swiss are scuzzbuckets whose sole allegiance is to making money by whatever means it takes. Money is all that is important. Honor is not. Integrity is not. Becoming respectful members of a civilized community is not. So, any person depositing funds (or even trusting the Swiss in any context) must understand that every benefit the Swiss offer to him or her is negotiable to a higher bidder (if they make money or avoid cost by serving up the person who relied upon the Swiss, the Swiss will deliver them up).

  3. Scuzzbuckets? Sounds like you are talking about our Financial "Too Big to Fail" Oligarchy. Goldman Sacs comes to mind when I hear these terms. :)

  4. Interesting article here on deals Germany and UK have stuck with the Swiss.

    I guess that a similar deal was offered to the US, which not so respectfully declined, since it would have innoculated Swiss bankers and would not have revealed US customer names


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