Serious Studies

Government Announces New Enforcement Policy: There Is One

UBS

Washington, February 20 -- The Federal Government today announced that for the first time in more than eight years, and possibly longer, it would begin to enforce finance and banking laws.

The announcement came on the heels of the Government's second requisition of information from UBS, a Swiss banking company that has allegedly been offering tax-free havens for savvy American investors for some years.

The move was viewed with consternation by many in the banking industry, and a formal statement of government policy was thought necessary, according to sources. "These banking laws have been on the books for years, but nobody has taken them very seriously," said one banker who declined to be named because he was afraid of everything. "Now all of a sudden they're coming after us with hammer and tongs. It's just not fair."

Federal authorities disagree. In recent weeks, they have demonstrated a flurry of activity, cracking the Madoff case (after Mr. Madoff confessed) and moving smartly in to arrest Robert Allen Stanford before his alleged fraud reached an even $10 billion. At the same time, investigation into thousands of e-mails sent by UBS to clients attempting to avoid onerous taxation is now underway. Some of these e-mail date back to 2004.

"We've been very busy enforcing a variety of accounting rules at essentially law-abiding corporations," said a government official who declined to be named on general principle, "but now we're going to take a hard look at some of the laws that may need more active enforcement. There are a lot of them, you know. And we're very short-staffed."

Analysts conjectured that the change of policy may have something to do with the new administration. "I don't think the reduction of taxation by virtually any means necessary was viewed as a punishable offense until very recently," said one, adding, "And now if you'll excuse me, I'm headed to the Cayman Islands on a completely unrelated matter."

16 Comments Add Comment

Good...curious to see how far this goes, I am hopeful this is just not saber rattling from the govt...we'll see..."enforce" is one of those words that is easier to say than do...

Whats the world coming to...do we have to bury our ill gotten gains in a chest topped with skulls like in the old days,,,,dammm weak kneed swiss bankers...avast there yee swine you shall walk the plank of low returns...

Wonderful wahoo cerviche in the Cay Mans.

Having been a mid-level compliance officer at several large financial institutions over the past few years, I can only say, how true!

The banks will never change their ways until someone actually enforces the laws that are on the books...

This strikes me as related to the $35 cheeseburger blog and things that are 'out of whack.' Add the tax system to that list and the inequitable distribution of the burden. Go get 'em Barack!

I want to see some bankers doing the perp walk on the 6 PM news each night!

Gee, was Leona Helmsley so bad? Could it be that Leona knew about the "high finance" scoundrels monopolizing the coffers of the World causing her to act out in a retaliatory manner? Martha stewart, too? Shocking!!

Madoff acted alone? Really? Wow!! We should imagine that Madoff's absences for months at a time were spent traveling to Switzerland and Africa with suitcases full of Ponzi money to deposit in "secret bank accounts" while the scheme in New York was run by remote? Duh......?

Some comments made about this financial crisis seem to imply, "we ain't seen nothing yet".

These banking moguls and gurus must really think people are "mushrooms"--keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit!

So.

Just as Enron's business model smelled fishy (Business Week hailed Jeff Skilling on its cover), a practice of hiding assets in foreign land to avoid taxes smelled like a sewer when I first read about it. Decades later, our Government decides to enforce its law, and go after UBS, its US customers and the rest? Well, that's because our wonderfully lazy indifferent Government now has to raise capital to pay for our trillion+ debt! Its left hand is busy spending money we do not have, while the right hand is out to collect all it can get! Now, there is an urgency and incentive for our Govt to actually do some work! Corporate America was slow to waking up. Now its our Government that is beginning to wake up from its long sleep. And it took a trillion+ debt to wake up our Government. Perhaps we can get this nation to move more efficiently and effectively. Now if we can only get the consumers to wake-up. That would mean walking away from a $35 cheeseburger! Hmm...

I dream of a better day where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

In reading Obama's tax cut plan to be executed on "All Fools Day"--April 1, 2009, tax payers will get another "patch" for A.M.T. (alernative minimum tax).

If we can't get tax reform to abolish A.M.T.; then please name the "tax" correctly.

The A.M.T. should be called what it is: "Alternative Maximum Tax" so that people don't get the wrong notion that they're in a minimum tax bracket instead of a maximum tax bracket.

Let's start leading the taxpayers and not misleading them. oooooops

Except, well, they didn't arrest Stanford. It seems pretty clear that in the current stimulated environment, $8.5 billion just isn't enough to get arrested over.

I can not believe Big Brother new nothing about this bank mess, madoff and stanford mess (yes, both names in minuscule like their morals), and to think that we raise our American brows about the blatant corruption in Latin America, Russia, China, Africa,,,,,

Enforcing accounting rules at all law-abiding banks and corporations should be the spirit of regulators. We have rules and regulations but are not "enforced" them yet. Compliance should be the top most agenda of those institutions who are in fair business and should be their selling strengths/arms as well for further growth and sustainability. Want to see guts of those regulators so that they get rewarded for establishing identified values into the system.

My best wishes !

Having worked at enforcing "green" laws for 20 years, I know the soul of the cheaters. They scream the loudest, and are outraged to be "picked on". But they understand very well that this is a strategy that sometimes works (often aided by politicians) to push back enforcement. I hope the government is serious about enforcement....or, get the damn laws off the books!

One thing about a heightened interest in regulations will be an inevitably renewed concern about classic questions:

Who will regulate the regulators? Who will teach wisdom to those whose responsibilities demand it?

And will the ferment over such questions produce wine, vinegar, or jugs of both?

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