Receiving Wide Coverage ...

The Swiss and Taxes: And you wonder how the Swiss banking industry got its reputation as a haven for tax evaders? The Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are examining Swiss bank UBS for allegedly helping its American wealth-management clients avoid taxes by putting their money into investments that are banned in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported. This isn't the first time UBS has run afoul of U.S. tax laws; back in 2009, UBS paid $780 million to settle a tax-evasion probe. Now, the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn is looking into UBS's usage of so-called bearer securities, which were phased out in the U.S. starting in 1982 because the securities were often abused to foster tax evasion. That's largely because the identity of the holder of bearer securities can be kept anonymous. The DOJ and FBI are also looking into whether UBS's alleged use of bearer securities was conducted during the time when it was still under a deferred-prosecution agreement stemming from the 2009 settlement, the Financial Times reported.

Wall Street Journal

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., spoke at a briefing Wednesday for members of Congress on the Somali remittance situation, and Ellison reiterated to American Banker that the decision by $81 million-asset Merchants Bank of California in Carson to close accounts of companies that wire money to Somalia would be "catastrophic for the Somali community." Ellison also said at the Congressional hearing that he's informed several regulators of the situation, including Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry. In a statement released Wednesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said it doesn't force banks to close specific accounts. Even so, banks must have the proper controls in place. "The Somali situation is a terrible human tragedy that cannot be solved by bank regulators; rather, it requires an international government and private-sector effort," the OCC said in the statement.

At least the dollar's rise in value makes it more affordable for Americans to travel abroad, right? Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said the dollar's rise in value is a "complicating factor" in the Fed's effort to raise inflation to its 2% target. Even so, Rosengren said he's "reasonably confident" the inflation target will be met. Rosengren made the comments on Thursday morning in at a conference in Frankfurt.

Cyberattacks aren't just something for banks and retailers to worry about. Anthem, the No. 2 U.S. health insurance firm, said that about 80 million of its customers and employees were hit in a data breach. The hackers are believed to have taken tSocial Security numbers but not credit-card or bank-account numbers.

Elsewhere ...

Des Moines Register: A federal judge ordered U.S. Bancorp to pay $18 million to customers of an Iowa financial firm that ran a Ponzi scheme. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission had sued U.S. Bancorp for allegedly helping Russell Wasendorf run the Ponzi scheme through his firm, Peregrine Financial Group in Cedar Falls, Iowa. U.S. Bancorp failed "to meet its own responsibilities to safeguard Peregrine's customer funds that it held," the CFTC said in a statement. The $18 million payment was part of a settlement that U.S. Bancorp reached with the CFTC and which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade.

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