Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LowyGate: The Nation's Take

The Nation has an information-packed article on the Lowy Senate hearings. For example:
The theatrics included ... Douglas H. Shulman, our sixth IRS commissioner in eight years, who conceded that offshore tax evasion must be a "serious, growing" problem even though the IRS has no idea how large it is; and Mark Branson, CFO of UBS's Global Wealth Management group, who apologized profusely, pledged to cooperate with the IRS (within the limits of Swiss secrecy) and surprised the Committee by announcing that UBS has decided (for the third time since 2002) to "exit" the shady business of providing new secret Swiss accounts to wealthy Americans.
Also missing from the roster were two prominent UBS executives: Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Americas, who has bundled more than $370,850 for Barack Obama so far this year, making UBS his fifth-largest corporate donor; and former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, vice chairman of UBS Securities LLC, a leading lobbyist for UBS until March, and until recently, John McCain's senior economics adviser.
I've seen Gramm's name in the news a lot lately without realising he was connected to this. Another top McCain fundraiser, James Courter, also resigned last week after his telecom firm was fined $1.3 million by the FCC for using a haven company in the Turks and Caicos to pay bribes to former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

And that's just in the first few paras... Read the rest here, including some intriguing post-WWII history of the Swiss banks' attempts to get US millionaires to invest there.