In June of this year UBS paid a record fine in France, in the course of an investigation into whether UBS had systematically identified wealthy clients to help them set up offshore accounts.
In July, Der Spiegel reported that UBS could be fined over 150 million euros for similar activities in Germany.
Last Friday, Stock Exchange Magazine published an interview with the president of UBS Axel Weber.
Weber first sets out the UBS position on those German tax avoiders: “We expect that by the end of 2014 all affected UBS clients in Germany will have proven that they are conforming to tax regulations.”
But he then goes on to talk about the overall situation of Switzerland as a financial centre. Citing a proposal for Switzerland to agree to automatic tax information exchange with the EU on condition of Swiss asset managers gaining access to EU markets, he says:
“If Switzerland voluntarily joins EU rules, without being a member of the EU itself, naturally it should also have unrestricted access to the EU market for financial services as one of the incentives granted to Switzerland”.
And next comes a comparison to the Schengen agreement on free travel within the EC, where Weber says that when Switzerland joined the Schengen agreement, its citizens also obtained unrestricted access to the EC: “The same must happen with financial services”.
Besides the chutzpah it takes to try to negotiate market access to the EU while in the middle of ongoing investigations for facilitating tax avoidance, I can´t help feeling that there´s something very wrong with that comparison. I just can´t put my finger on it at the moment.
Note: The original interview is in German – translations are thanks to google together with some intermediate level knowledge