Witness Protection for Bank Whistleblower; UBS Exec Takes 'the Fifth'

Liechtenstein financiers took extra steps to insulate themselves from controversial clients whose money they nevertheless wished to manage, Kieber testified. For instance, a major arm of his bank declined to accept new accounts from wealthy Russians, but would send them to smaller companies the bank had set up Kieber said.

"In that way if the risky clients are exposed in a scandal overseas, the larger well-known banks. . . are out of trouble and the media spotlight," he explained.

Though present only in prerecorded shadow, Kieber proved chattier than the men whose secret accounts he revealed.

Shannon Marsh and William Wu, two of the four LGT clients slated to testify at today's hearing attended but said little, beyond invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A third, Peter S. Lowy, left the country but has agreed to appear before the panel next week. A fourth, Steven Greenfield, ignored a subpoena to appear. The subcommittee has not decided what action it will take, if any, against Greenfield.

Another witness, Martin Liechti, also took the fifth rather than answer questions from the panel on his bank's practices. Liechti, head of wealth management for North and South American clients for Swiss bank UBS, was briefly detained in May by the U.S. Justice Department as part of its investigation into tax evasion.

In a statement, UBS said it "has been working diligently with US and Swiss authorities" to provide information to US investigators. At the hearing, a UBS executive said the bank will no longer provide "undeclared" accounts to US citizens and is "winding down" its business involving already existing accounts.

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