An ongoing investigation of offshore investments handled by the Swiss bank UBS may have major repercussions in the U.S.
As the New York Times reports today, federal authorities are looking at accounts managed by UBS for wealthy U.S. investors.
Investigators estimate that the bank’s customers may have hidden as much as $20 billion in assets from the IRS.
A former UBS banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, is expected to testify Monday that he helped a UBS client avoid taxes on $200 million, the Times reports.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations also is scheduled to hold hearings soon on offshore products offered by the bank.
The hearings, and possible charges filed by the IRS and the Justice Department, may prove an embarrassment not only to the bank and its customers, but to UBS vice chairman Phil Gramm and his favorite presidential candidate.
Gramm, a former senator from Texas, Gramm joined UBS in 2002, after 24 years in Congress. He also serves as national co-chairman of John McCain’s presidential bid.
McCain has worked hard in recent weeks to answer charges of having too many ties to lobbyists. Democrats, who today released a new ad called “McCain’s Lobbyist Friends,” charge that Gramm is another example of undue business influence.
Gramm has certainly weathered controversy before. His wife, Wendy, was a director of Enron.