Thursday, March 05, 2009

Baker & McKenzie UBS Memo Takes Center Stage

SFL here.

Come on folks -- David needs to focus on his trial, and a bunch of nudnick commenters force him to change his comment policy. Oy.

Meanwhile, the UBS saga unfolds on multiple fronts, in addition to Judge Gold's courtroom. In Senate testimony yesterday, a Baker & McKenzie tax memo took center stage:

According to a 180-page list of exhibits released by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a UBS memo dated July 4, 2000, shows that the Swiss bank relied on outside legal counsel from Baker & McKenzie when setting up offshore asset vehicles and insurance plans to aid U.S. clients. (The UBS memo citing legal advice obtained from Baker & McKenzie can be seen on PDF pages 178 and 179.)

The memo, which was signed by UBS financial planning and wealth management employees Jonathan Bourne and René Sonneveld, explicitly states that the firm was consulted when setting up such schemes.

It also appears that UBS is arguing some sort of abstention doctrine before Judge Gold:

Branson said that UBS views the John Doe summons filed by the IRS in federal court in Miami as a dispute between the IRS and the Swiss government, which can best be resolved through diplomacy rather than litigation that is neither "proper nor productive."

UBS is being advised by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz litigation partners John Savarese, Ralph Levene, and Martin Arms. Eugene Stearns, chairman of Florida firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, is serving as local counsel to UBS along with litigation partners Ana Barnett and Gordon Mead, Jr. (Stuart Gibson, senior litigation counsel with the Justice Department's tax division, is the lead lawyer for the government.)

What is with the Swiss and diplomacy? Also, when is litigation ever "proper or productive"?

Welcome to America!


Anonymous said...

Why didn't the government name B & M part of the collusion?

Doesn't anybody see the irony in a law firm ostensibly (allegedly) okaying the setting up of offshore corporations that are used to evade hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payments -- and the firm suffering no fallout from it;


Ben being prosecuted for doing due diligence work?

Anonymous said...

The law firm and others in the US and Switzerland will be prosecuted. See US v. Popkin (11th Cir.). B&M filing is nonsense and sanctionable. They are way out of their league. UBS will never come clean. Short their stock, they are going down unless Hillary comes to some secret arrangement and tax cheat Geithner goes along with it and fools Obama.