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California billionaire Igor Olenicoff had already invested $200 million with UBS AG in 2001 when his Swiss bankers ushered him to an underground vault in Geneva.
Olenicoff, a real estate developer with a taste for yachts and Russian art, saw floor upon floor of safe-deposit boxes. His private banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, and a colleague showed Olenicoff his own space for valuables.
“They said, ‘Whatever you want — corporate stock, cash, gold, silver — put it in here,’” says Olenicoff, 66, at the Newport Beach, California, headquarters of Olen Properties Corp., the company he founded in 1973. “It was that aura of legitimacy and secrecy. They say, ‘We’re the world’s largest wealth manager,’ so how do you question?”
Recall, of course, that former Senator Phil Gramm is a senior executive with UBS.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Amount of trash left in New York City’s Central Park by people attending Earth Day festivities, in tons:
High ocean acidity from rising sea temperatures was causing the ears of baby damselfish to develop improperly; without ears, baby damselfish cannot hear (and thus locate) the reefs where they are meant to grow up.
Colombian author and Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez died at age 87. “You’d be at a bordello,” said the journalist Francisco Goldman, “and the woman would have one book by her bed and it would be Gabo’s.”
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Science’s crisis of faith