The First Post is reporting on rumors the FBI will be conducting a sting at Art Basel:
According to recent reports, the law enforcement agency is taking a close look at as many as 60 bankers – and hundreds of their clients – employed by the fair’s main sponsor, the Swiss banking giant UBS. Many of them – bankers and clients – will be attending the investment bank’s Friday night dinner, traditionally the most lavish and coveted invitation of the week. Unless, of course, they are put off by the rumours now rife of an FBI sting.
The famous agency, and its friend the IRS – the American tax authority – appear to be alert to the fact that art is not only an excellent way to move capital between tax jurisdictions unseen but that the intersection of banking and art collecting is a productive place to pursue their line of work. [ . . . ]
(More details, including mentions of numbered accounts, after the jump.)
In court documents lodged in Federal Court in Miami, prosecutors allege UBS bankers used its sponsorship of the art fair to wine and dine clients now suspected of tax evasion. One UBS client unmasked early in the probe has been forced to pay $52m in taxes and penalties.
Lawyers for others say the FBI’s request for tax information constitutes an illegal “fishing expedition” because it appears designed to catch a few tax cheats by obtaining information on all customers.
Since half the point of having a Swiss bank account – numbered, of course – is to avoid such disclosure, several of the bank’s US clients have lodged complaints in Switzerland to block Swiss cooperation with the US investigation.
How the Feds Learned to Love Art (First Post)