Ospel willing to go before parliamentary review

Former UBS chairman Marcel Ospel has said he is ready to go before a parliamentary probe into the troubled Swiss bank’s fortunes, declaring he has “nothing to hide”.

This content was published on March 9, 2010

Ospel was at the helm of UBS in 2007 when the bank plunged into the financial crisis and suffered a legal conflict with the United States authorities over tax evasion.

A parliamentary public accounts committee is investigating the UBS debacle and the role of the government during the financial crisis. Its findings are due at the end of May.

Since stepping down in 2008 Ospel has not made any public appearances or granted interviews. He broke his silence on Tuesday when the tabloid, Blick, published an interview with the former executive.

He said “of course” he would be available to meet with the review committee and work towards resolving outstanding issues. He said it was important to draw a line under the affair in order to enable the bank to get on with its “core activities, namely customer service”.

Ospel noted he had not yet been asked to appear, but the president of the review committee, Hans Hess, said they intended to invite him. It is expected that he will be questioned in a secret location to shield him from the media.

Other former UBS CEOs Marcel Rohner and Peter Wuffli have also signalled their readiness to appear before the review.

The case between US tax authorities and the Swiss banking giant have so far cost the federal government SFr2.5 million ($2.3 million). The bank itself was forced to pay $780 million in fines and hand over the confidential details of 4,450 clients.

In 2008, the Swiss National Bank was forced to inject SFr6 billion ($5.29 billion) into UBS but the bank still posted a loss of more than SFr2 billion in 2009, somewhat buoyed by a fourth-quarter profit.

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