UBS AG (UBSN) is asking employees to sign a code of conduct requiring them to comply with foreign tax reporting rules while protecting clients’ identities as the bank seeks to stem damage from a U.S. tax evasion case.
Employees must acknowledge that they have read the 11-page document this month, then pass a test and sign it in May, Zurich-based UBS said today.
“There are no exceptions,” Chief Executive Officer Oswald Gruebel and Chairman Kaspar Villiger wrote in the forward to the document, posted on the bank’s Web site. “Ignorance of the code, applicable laws and regulations, UBS policies or good business practices is not an acceptable justification for violation of the principles set out in the code.”
Switzerland’s biggest bank by assets is trying to restore confidence and stop withdrawals by wealthy clients that totaled 182.9 billion francs ($179 billion) in the 18 months through September. UBS paid a fine and agreed to hand over client account information to settle lawsuits in the U.S. after admitting that its bankers helped clients to avoid taxes.
Gruebel said yesterday that it is “imperative” for UBS to halt withdrawals by wealthy clients after six quarters of net outflows that have undermined profit at the bank’s biggest division.
The code is “an integral part of changing the way UBS conducts business,” Gruebel and Villiger said.
The bank “complies with all applicable laws and regulations” for tax reporting worldwide and “does not provide assistance to clients in acts aimed at breaching their fiscal obligations,” according to the code of conduct. UBS maintains client confidentiality, “except when disclosure is authorized by them or required by applicable laws, rules or regulations,” the bank said in the document.
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