Washington Babylon — August 24, 2009, 2:16 pm

The White House and the Justice Department: Different approaches to UBS

The Justice Department is sending UBS bankers to prison:

Former UBS banker, Bradley Birkenfeld of Weymouth, Mass., has been sentenced to 40 months incarceration by Judge William J. Zloch in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On June 19, 2008, Birkenfeld pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States, the Justice Department announced today.

According to court documents and statements made in court today, Birkenfeld worked as a private banker in Geneva, Switzerland, for UBS AG, one of the country’s largest banks. While at UBS, Birkenfeld assisted an American billionaire real estate developer evade paying $7.2 million in taxes by assisting the developer conceal $200 million of assets hidden offshore in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. While at UBS, Birkenfeld routinely traveled to and had contacts within the United States in an effort to assist wealthy Americans conceal their ownership in assets held offshore and therefore evade the payment of taxes on the income generated on the money hidden offshore.

The President is playing golf with them:

MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass. — The First Duffer hit the links Monday, on the first full day of his vacation, after a morning workout and a game of tennis with his wife at the 28-acre waterfront estate he has rented for the week. South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn (D), UBS Investment Bank president Robert Wolf and White House aide Marvin Nicholson joined President Obama for a round of golf…”You know, he’s on vacation. So everything is a little bit loose,” spokesman Bill Burton said at the elementary school gymnasium that is serving as the island briefing room.

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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