The Swiss bank UBS built itself into a financial powerhouse on the strength of its private wealth management division, in which discreet bankers tended to the fortunes of the world's elite. But a major American tax evasion probe may lead UBS to do what was once unthinkable: divulge its secrets. The bank might release the names of up to 20,000 clients to the feds, and the rich are running scared, the New York Times reports.
The IRS suspects UBS might have helped its clients cheat the IRS by hiding up to $20 billion. A former UBS banker is set to plead guilty to charges and is expected to testify that he helped clients conceal their assets. Swiss banking secrecy may never be the same: as one high-net-worth former client predicted, "He's going to sing like a parakeet."