Ex-wives, creditors see possible payday in list of UBS's secret accounts

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But heaven help the American men who held secret Swiss bank accounts and whose names may soon be published if a settlement is reached among the U.S., Switzerland, and Swiss banking giant UBS.

Some 4,450 Americans held secret UBS accounts containing undeclared assets, and UBS agreed last week to turn over details of those accounts to the Internal Revenue Service. Ex-wives aren't the only ones interested in those details, of course; former business partners and creditors are claiming dibs on assets that may have been hidden from them in the accounts.
New York City divorce attorney Raoul Lionel Felder told Time that accusations of hidden Swiss bank accounts are part-and-parcel of divorce proceedings. "A lot of divorces are going to get opened up," he said. Felder added that he's already fielding calls from clients regarding hidden funds to which they believe can lay claim.

The Swiss, known for keeping wealth a very private matter, concede that UBS had few options but to turn over the names, to avoid a threat of criminal prosecution that would have threatened its viability and the Swiss economy, a Swiss government official said.

The accounts held $18 billion in assets at one time, though many have been closed, said IRS commissioner Doug Shulman. The IRS hasn't said whether it's looking at other Swiss financial institutions, but it's certainly aware of hidden accounts at other banks in Switzerland, as well as in Asia and the Caribbean.

It's still unclear how many accountholders are involved. The U.S. is offering an amnesty to those who admit to sheltering funds by Sept. 23: those who come clean about hiding money might remain anonymous and avoid jail time. If the names went public, an attorney representing UBS clients told Time, courts would likely see a jump in cases alleging divorce and corporate and bankruptcy fraud.

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