Ex-wives are hot on the heels of the US government in going after thousands of Americans whose secret Swiss bank accounts could soon be open to scrutiny, according to a report from Time Magazine.
After a year-long investigation by the US government into allegations of tax fraud at UBS, the Swiss bank agreed to give up the account details of as many as 4,450 Americans.
The individuals in question are suspected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of tax evasion. But some believe that the accounts could have been used to hide cash not just from the tax man.
If the names are released to the public, the account holders could see a flurry of lawsuits from ex-wives, creditors and business partners on suspicion of hidden money, lawyers told Time.
"You see allegations of Swiss bank accounts in divorce proceedings all the time," Prominent New York City divorce lawyer Raoul Lionel Felder told the magazine.
"A lot of divorces are going to get opened up," he said to Time.
Felder told Time that he is already getting calls from clients who long suspected their exs had been hiding money that could have been rightfully theirs.
Most US states don’t have a statute of limitations for divorce cases, so a previous settlement could become void if it was discovered that assets were undisclosed, the Time report pointed out.
It is it's not clear how many of the UBS accounts will be made public as the IRS is giving holders until September 23 to come clean about fraud to try and avoid jail time, the report said. Early disclosure would likely allow the account holders to remain anonymous.
However, if the holder used their UBS account to defraud a bankruptcy court or others, it is possible they would not get clemency from the IRS, the report said.
"People hid money in Swiss bank accounts not just to avoid the IRS, but other creditors as well," Martin Press, a lawyer representing numerous UBS clients, told Time magazine.
"If these names become public, we are going to see a number of cases of bankruptcy fraud, corporate fraud and divorce fraud," he told Time.