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The Death of the Swiss Bank Account


UBS admits to defrauding the US.

The Swiss tradition of secret bank accounts dates to the Middle Ages - and may be coming to an end, thanks to entrepreneurs at the Internal Revenue Service.

The largest bank in Switzerland, UBS (UBS), has agreed to reveal the names of US citizens who the IRS believes used offshore accounts to evade taxes.

The bank agreed to pay $780 million to settle a federal investigation and admitted to conspiring to defraud Uncle Sam.

The Feds have reviewed the records of about 19,000 accounts at the bank, but it's unclear how many names will be made public. Purists say turning over any names to investigators helps mark the end of those secret accounts.

The number of people who engaged in the apparent fraud isn't known, but the New York Times reports that from 2002 to 2007, UBS helped US clients illegally stash $20 billion and evade about $300 million a year in taxes.

But it turns out the most efficacious way to get folks to pay their full tax bill is to nominate them for a cabinet post.

Tom Daschle, President Obama's nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, paid $146,000 in back taxes hoping to keep his nomination alive, but later withdrew his name from consideration.

Such a blatant tactic sounds like a sting operation in the making. So if you get a letter in the mail saying you've been nominated for a cushy cabinet position, don't fall for this transparent attempt to make you come clean.
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