Vanderbilt Law Review


Niels Jensen

First Page



It began with headlines of nearly $20 billion in hidden assets, 52,000 secret bank accounts, confidential informants, court proceedings, and a $780 million fine.' The Union Bank of Switzerland ("UBS") controversy, with all its dramatic appeal, attracted international attention and brought taxation issues to the forefront of public debate. As the scope of tax evasion activities involving UBS began to unfold, U.S. authorities on numerous fronts mobilized against international tax haven abuse-a problem much broader in scope than the scandal at hand.

In order to attract foreign capital to their respective markets, many countries have enacted favorable tax laws with regard to foreign investors. All too happy to receive lower tax rates, or organically higher returns, taxpayers increasingly turn to markets outside their home countries. At the same time, home countries often lack the tools and resources to keep up with their residents' offshore activities, thereby opening the door to tax evasion. In the end, international competition for foreign investments, coupled with capital mobility, enables convenient tax-free investment and leaves home countries in the dark and unable to collect their taxes.

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