When you set up that secret Swiss account of yours, you assumed that you could totally count on the bank to defend your privacy no matter what the cost, right? If it didn't, what else would Switzerland have to boast about, with the exception of solid skiing, pocket knives, and cough drops? It looks like the world's blandest nation will now have to come up with a new bullet point to add to its tourism brochures. And a trip to a Zurich bank vault will no longer be a staple of international crime capers.
As of today, Switzerland's famously stringent secrecy laws are a thing of the past. UBS reached a landmark settlement with the U.S. government this morning to turn over the names of 4,000 Americans suspected of using their Swiss accounts to avoid paying taxes. (The Justice Department had originally requested 52,000 names; the two sides reached a compromise.)
So how do you know if you're one of the people that UBS decided to rat out? "UBS will notify the clients whose names are to be disclosed in coming weeks," the bank reports. That will be a pretty awkward form letter to get in the mail, won't it?
UBS to Disclose Over 4,000 Client Names [NYT/Dealbook]