Wealthy American clients of UBS face criminal investigations

Hiding money in a Swiss bank account used to be the primary reason people invested with a company like UBS (UBS). Now that decision is coming back to haunt the Americans who did so. The New York Times reports that the Justice Department opened about 100 criminal investigations into wealthy Americans who were clients of UBS.

In February, UBS volunteered to pay $780 million to settle a claim involving criminal fraud and failure to collect taxes on 17,000 accounts, but it is hiding behind Swiss secrecy laws when it comes to revealing individual account information on most of those names. As part of the settlement in February, UBS turned over the names of about 285 clients, but the Justice Department wants as many as 52,000 additional client names. Under Swiss financial secrecy laws, disclosing client data is a crime in all but the most egregious cases. The Times also reported that UBS alerted some of the people involved that their account information was turned over to the authorities.