Hello! You are part of a community of millions who seek out Democracy Now! each month for ad-free daily news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for our in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power and lift up the voices of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We produce all of this news at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation. We do this without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How? This model of news depends on support from viewers and listeners like you. Today, less than 1% of our visitors support Democracy Now! with a donation each year. If even 3% of our website visitors donated just $10 per month, we could cover our basic operating expenses for a year. Pretty amazing right? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make a monthly contribution.

Your Donation: $
Friday, April 16, 2010 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Obama’s New Space Exploration Plan Includes Major...
2010-04-16

Jailed Whistleblower: US Lawmakers Held Offshore UBS Accounts

DONATE →
This is viewer supported news

Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez discusses his interview with UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld one day after Birkenfield’s Tax Day clemency request to President Obama. Birkenfeld is serving a forty-month sentence despite playing a key role in exposing the biggest tax evasion scheme in US history. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, you have a very interesting piece in today’s New York Daily News.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, my column follows up, actually, on the conversation we had yesterday here on Democracy Now! on the issue of Bradley Birkenfeld, the UBS whistleblower. I interviewed Birkenfeld by telephone from his federal cell in Pennsylvania yesterday, and he provided some new revelations about the involvement of UBS in the largest tax fraud in American history.

Birkenfeld told me that the UBS bank that he worked for, the Swiss bank, actually had an office in Washington, DC, which the other bankers called the PEP office, which was for “politically exposed people.” And he claims it was an office that handled the offshore bank accounts of American politicians. He said he did not have the names of those politicians, because he didn’t actually work in that office and it was closely held, but it was well known that there were major American politicians, as well, that were hiding their money in Swiss bank accounts.

And he also said that UBS Americas, the US subsidiary, was directly involved in facilitating the recruitment of rich Americans to hide their bank — to hide their money in the Swiss parent company, that the UBS Americas would sponsor major society events and then invite the Swiss bankers over to mingle with the crowd of rich Americans, like Art Basel in Miami and other — the Boston Symphony events and others that the bank sponsored, and then invite the Swiss bankers over to recruit the rich Americans to put their money in Swiss banks.

So it will be interesting to see if federal prosecutors continue to follow up on this issue, especially of major politicians being involved in hiding their money from the federal government in Swiss banks.

AMY GOODMAN: And the reason we did the story yesterday — and if people didn’t see it, go to democracynow.org — is because it was Tax Day, and that was the day that Birkenfeld chose to ask for clemency. And the issue, just once again, as you talk about these PEPs, politically exposed persons, who would have offshore bank accounts, how high up the connections of UBS goes, both in the Republican and Democratic parties?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, yeah. You have the fact that Robert Wolf, who was the chair of UBS Americas — or is the chair of UBS Americas, was the prime fundraiser and close confidante of Barack Obama, and still is, while the vice chair of UBS Americas is Phil Gramm, the —-

AMY GOODMAN: Former Texas senator.

JUAN GONZALEZ: —- former Texas senator, who was also the senior adviser, economic adviser, to John McCain during the presidential campaign. So you had the fact that the chairman of UBS Americas was a close adviser to Barack Obama, while the vice chair was a senior economic adviser to John McCain. So UBS had the bases covered with both political parties in the last election.

AMY GOODMAN: Perhaps why it didn’t become a campaign issue for either party when you had, in August, President — well, then-Senator Obama teeing off with UBS’s Wolf in Martha’s Vineyard at the same time, of course, though, McCain was with Phil Gramm.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, the real tragedy or the scandal of all this is that Bradley Birkenfeld, the guy who blew the whistle, who voluntarily came forward and gave the government all this information that made this continued investigation and now indictments of many who were involved in tax evasion, has gotten the biggest sentence. He is serving forty months in federal prison, while none of the executives of UBS have been brought to justice, and those rich Americans, 15,000 of them in the past year, in 2009, came forward to admit to the IRS that they were holding offshore accounts and basically paid fines. And about a half-dozen or so have already been indicted criminally, but they’ve all gotten a few months in jail or been allowed to pay fines, while the guy who blew the whistle on the whole thing, Bradley Birkenfeld, is sitting in a federal prison with a forty-month sentence.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll certainly continue to follow this story.

Show Full Transcript ›
‹ Hide Full Transcript

Recent Shows More

Full News Hour

Stories

    Peoplesclimatemarchjustseedsimage
    A People’s Climate Movement: Indigenous, Labor, Faith Groups Prepare for Historic March
    New York City is set to host what could be the largest climate change protest in history. Organizers expect more than 100,000 people to converge for a People’s Climate March on Sunday. Some 2,000 solidarity events are scheduled around the world this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s United Nations climate summit. We spend the hour with four participants representing the labor, indigenous, faith and climate justice communities: Rev. Dr. Serene Jones is the president of Union Theological Seminary, which recently voted to divest from fossil...

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.