Mentioned the other day that the US is gearing up to go at Switzerland hard. Now it looks like the first broad-side managed to rip some rigging loose. According to the WaPo, thousands of “UBS clients have been receiving calls and letters telling them that their Swiss accounts will soon be liquidated.” Apparently, some of the clients are even being told by UBS to contact the IRS and file amended returns. Most commentators suggest that this is the beginning of the end of the legendary secrecy that makes Switzerland so attractive.
As a related matter, a nice extradition battle looms for Raoul Weil, the individual whose indictment seems to have sparked the freakout at UBS. Traditionally, Switzerland has been somewhat reticent to extradite based on tax issues, not to mention the fact that Switzerland is not compelled to extradite its own citizens. The Times of London has a nice run-down on some of the issues involved. Of course, if Switzerland declines to extradite, he will still potentially be land-locked, as Interpol has no doubt been notified of the charges, and a Red Notice presumably issued, which will alert member countries that an indictment is out there. While a Red Notice is NOT (can’t stress that enough) a so-called “arrest warrant,” it does often serve as basis for a provisional arrest in an extradition setting.