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Ask the average American what they immediately think of when you mention Swiss banking and you’ll get some similar responses.
So maybe the US officials working away in the two buildings in front of me, know this is a campaign they can wage without upsetting most Americans.
As I stand on Constitution Avenue, a few blocks from the White House, to my left is the huge, white, imposing Inland Revenue Service building - to my right a the similarly imposing pillars of the Department of Justice…
But as they investigate UBS, is this the start of a campaign against Swiss banking privacy in general?
Alex Raskolnikov is a professor of law at the prestigious Columbia Law School.
In a statement IRS commissioner Doug Shulman is pretty clear.
About secret offshore accounts held by US citizens, Shulman says quote, ’People should take notice that the secrecy surrounding these accounts is rapidly fading.’ he goes on ’People with hidden foreign accounts can no longer rest easy.’
And tax lawyer Patti Spencer from the Spencer Law firm in Pennsylvania says the IRS will use any opportunity to reclaim some of the money it feels it is missing out on.
And Columbia Law’s Alex Raskolnikov says the IRS knows the figures are huge.
Raskolnikov says the Department of Justice and the IRS are well aware that a crackdown on Swiss banking alone won’t get them anywhere - because US citizens can easily take their money and put it in the Cayman Islands or another offshore banking centre.
He says the IRS’s hope is that by launching this first case against UBS, wealthy individuals will be scared into declaring all of their income and capital gains - aware that greater attention is now being focused on secret foreign bank accounts.