UBS, a massive Swiss bank, drastically increased its donations to the Clinton Foundation after Hillary Clinton intervened on the bank’s behalf to settle a dispute between the bank and the IRS, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal piece, at the end of 2008, shortly before Clinton became Secretary of State, UBS’s total donations to the Clinton Foundation amounted to about $60,000. By the end of 2014, that total had risen to about $600,000, a tenfold increase.
What happened in the interim? A major spat between the Swiss bank and the IRS. The IRS was suing UBS in an effort to force the bank to identify American citizens who held secret Swiss bank accounts. The lawsuit was putting the bank in a bind, forcing it to choose between violating either Swiss secrecy laws or U.S. tax law.
But Clinton intervened to help settle the dispute, in what the Journal characterizes as “an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat.” A deal was brokered where UBS was allowed to turn over the identities of 4,450 account holders, far less than the 52,000 initially sought by the IRS. The deal was criticized by some of Clinton’s fellow Democrats, such as then-Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who wanted a tougher crackdown on the bank’s actions.
After that deal, UBS’s involvement with the Clinton Foundation surged dramatically. Besides donating about $540,000 additional dollars to the foundation itself, UBS also lent $32 million to an entrepreneurship and inner-city loan program the foundation helped launch, and it paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a question-and-answer session with UBS executive Bob McCann. That’s the biggest corporate speaking fee Clinton has ever received, the Journal says.
While there is currently no evidence of a “deal” struck between Clinton and UBS, the news is the latest piece of information that raises questions about the degree of overlap between Hillary Clinton’s public business and her family’s private efforts.
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