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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
Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner:
The bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, was being scrutinized in the hope of building a better airplane engine.
London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”