UBS eases international travel restrictions for employees

Last Updated: Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 19:54

New Delhi: Swiss banking major UBS has eased travel restrictions on its employees involved in cross-border business activities following a review of its compliance with laws in different countries.

"Travel restrictions have been eased gradually according to country-by-country risk assessment and -- on an individual level -- dependent on the completion of web-based training by client-facing employees, the deadline for which was end November," a Hong Kong-based spokesperson for UBS told reporters.
The restrictions on travel were imposed earlier this year, mainly after the G-20 leaders in April pledged to crackdown on tax havens and black money.

Last year, the US authorities had detained a UBS official for a brief time, as part of an investigation to know whether the firm helped Americans in tax evasion.

Without disclosing when the restrictions were imposed, the spokesperson said the bank began a cross-border review in August. The review is based on comprehensive policy and control framework.

According to the spokesperson, the review is designed to ensure that all of the bank`s "current and future cross-border activities are fully compliant with all the laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate".

UBS, Switzerland`s largest bank, in August had agreed to reveal the secret account details of 4,400 American clients who have been accused of tax evasion in the US. The move, seen as a setback for the famed Swiss banking secrecy practice, came after the US threatened legal action against the bank.
"In response to changes in the business environment, both with respect to the regulatory environment as well as client expectations, UBS launched a Cross-Border Review Programme in August 2009," the official noted.

"The Global Policy serves as the basis for all of UBS Wealth Management and Swiss Bank`s cross-border activities. However, where necessary, it is complemented by supplementary instructions for specific countries or segments," the spokesperson said.

In the wake of the global crackdown on tax havens, the focus had also shifted to estimated billions of dollars worth black money stashed away in Swiss accounts.

Many countries including India are looking to get information on black money hidden by their respective citizens, in secret accounts in Switzerland.

India is in discussions with Swiss authorities to amend their existing tax treaty, which would help in accessing information about such accounts.


First Published: Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 19:54

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