UBS, the world's largest wealth manager, is facing embarrassment over fresh revelations going back to the tax investigation that led to the collapse of Swiss banking secrecy. Two significant events are looming before UBS. The first is the possibility of a public trial in France, featuring UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, concerning historic tax evasion allegedly orchestrated by the bank. That could happen this year.
The other is the publication this October of Birkenfeld's scathing new book, Lucifer's Banker, which covers his time at UBS.
UBS and Obama
Birkenfeld claims there was a glaring conflict of interest involving then Senator Barack Obama, which essentially placed him on the UBS payroll. He said UBS was an enthusiastic fundraiser for Obama for his 2008 election campaign and senior executives at the bank bundled campaign contributions. Bundlers are expected to raise in excess of $500,000 each for the US president's re-election effort. UBS also advised the president on investments and strategy for the country. Birkenfeld states that when he gave testimony about UBS to the Senate Committee in late 2007, Senator Obama was conspicuously absent.
Birkenfeld said: "When I went to give this information to the US Senate Committee they provided me a subpoena to testify, as the DOJ refused to do this. At this time Senator Obama was an active member of that committee and he never showed up for any of those hearings. Not one.
"But at the same time he was taking millions of dollars from UBS in campaign contributions. That's the ultimate conflict of interest because he should have been there helping to investigate UBS on behalf of the American taxpayers, but instead he was taking money from UBS. I call it political prostitution. He is taking millions of dollars from a criminally corrupt bank in direct violation to his oath of office."
"Why wasn't I allowed to testify in public? They stopped it. Why wasn't I allowed to testify at Raoul Weil's trial? They stopped it. I had to fight to go find the French magistrate to help them.
"We are dealing here with the corruption of US government and people like Barack Obama and the corruption of big banks like UBS. These are people that have really betrayed their country."
Bradley Birkenfeld's book Lucifer's Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy is published by Greenleaf on 18 October 2016.