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Last week I posted an item here on an interview with Bradley Birkenfeld, a former banker who “blew the whistle on thousands of secret bank accounts rich Americans held at Swiss giant UBS.” Birkenfeld claimed that American politicians had been among those with off-shore accounts with the bank and further said that UBS “had an office in Washington that we all referred to as the PEP office—for ‘Politically Exposed People’.”
Birkenfeld subsequently offered another interview, this one with Reuters. It’s also worth a look:
Arguing that a previous investigation of the bank was hampered by incompetence and political cover-ups, Birkenfeld said a U.S. legal settlement with UBS should be tossed out immediately so the bank can be hit with much stiffer penalties and fines. “They dropped the ball on this totally,” said Birkenfeld, referring to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Pardon the expression, but they should have some balls here,” he told Reuters. He spoke in a telephone interview from a prison in Minersville, Pennsylvania, where he began serving a 40-month sentence in January…
“The political influence of UBS is massive,” Kohn said, when asked about the bank’s ties in Washington. “They’ve purposely put in high place politicians or former politicians.”
That last line is a clear reference to former Senator Phil Gramm, who took a high-paying executive position with UBS after leaving office.
Incidentally, Birkenfeld is the only person involved in the scandal who has been hit with serious prison time. His lawyers plan to submit a clemency petition to President Obama.
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
Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire:
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”