Switzerland's biggest bank admitted today that it helped wealthy US customers evade their taxes, the Wall Street Journal reports. UBS set up shell companies and fake trusts for customers so they could hide their accounts from the IRS. The company will pay $780 million in fines and turn over the names of as many as 250 American clients—a move that breaks with the usual traditions of bank secrecy.
The settlement will end criminal charges regarding UBS' offshore banking services, but a civil case brought by US tax officials is still on the books. Prosecutors in that case say the bank may be forced to turn over the names of at least 20,000 clients thought to be using UBS tools to skirt the IRS.