Former UBS AG chairmen Marcel Ospel and Peter Kurer could face charges related to the bank's alleged practice of helping U.S. clients evade taxes, after the Swiss Social Democratic Party filed criminal complaints against them on Friday.
An out-of-court settlement reached Wednesday between the U.S. and Swiss governments indicates that the names of some of UBS's American account holders could be released to U.S. investigators without breaking Swiss banking secrecy rules, the party's president Christian Levrat said.
[It follows that] under Swiss law this would only be possible if the account holders were involved in tax fraud, he said.
The Social Democrats, whose members include Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, [therefore] claim Ospel and Kurer must have known the bank was helping its foreign clients hide money in offshore accounts.
The party has asked Zurich prosecutors to examine whether the men can be charged with fraudulent business practices and abetting tax fraud. Ospel left the bank in 2008. His successor, Kurer, was replaced by current chairman Kaspar Villiger in April.
Some say the complaint is baseless.
But let's be clear: banks don't commit fraud without human help.
And it seems absolutely clear UBS committed fraud. So isn't someone accountable?