Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wegelin Chief Interviewed; Accepts Responsibility Somewhat (7/20/13)

This is an amazing article of an interview of Konrad Hummler, former president of Wegelin & Company (Wikipedia entry here) which unintentionally committed suicide through aggressive and incredibly stupid activity in assisting U.S. taxpayers cheat on their U.S. taxes.  See Wegelin chief takes blame for bank's collapse (The Local: Switzerland's News in English 7/18/13), here.  Hummler on the one hand accepts blame but on the other deflects it.  Read it for what it is worth.  I started to do significant excerpts, but I think the whole article should be read; please link to it.  However, these are a couple of excerpts:
He acknowledged he had underestimated the US authorities and the risk of penalties. 
While stressing the bank had always respected Swiss law, he admitted exploiting "differences between the (legal systems) in Switzerland and the United States."
Basically, as with many criminals, what he really regrets is (i) having been discovered and (ii) being too exposed on what the United States could do.  As his minions hawked Wegelin to U.S. taxpayers fleeing or driven from UBS, he was assuring them that there was nothing the U.S. could do to Wegelin's ability to keep the client data secret.  He was wrong.

The article also alludes to the situation of the Holocaust Jews with money in Swiss banks. Hummler uses that episode to paint Swiss bank secrecy as a good thing.  That episode had its darker side, of course, when the Swiss banks just decided not to return the money in many cases.  See The Wikipedia entry, World Jewish Congress lawsuit against Swiss banks (Wikipedia), here.  This is a mixed defense of secrecy as implemented by the Swiss.

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