Arnd Weigmann / REUTERS

How to Crack Down on Tax Havens

Start With the Banks

On October 17, 2008, during the throes of the global financial crisis, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice summoned Swiss banking regulators and executives from UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, to a closed-door meeting in New York to discuss the bank’s role in helping American clients evade taxes. It was a sensitive moment: the Swiss government had bailed out UBS the previous day. The bank’s game plan was simple, a company insider later told Reuters: “Admit guilt, settle the case quickly, and move on.”  But the Swiss were in for a nasty surprise. Four months earlier, U.S. authorities …

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