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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Holder’s Swiss bank conflict of interest

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Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. recently promised to focus on disrupting the financial mechanisms that international religious terrorists use to finance themselves. But there is good reason to be very skeptical regarding Mr. Holder's professed strategy.

It is common knowledge in the international banking "fraternity" that the primary bank used by both the legal and nonlegal factions of the bin Laden family is UBS Switzerland. Although he does not like to advertise it, as an attorney in private practice, Mr. Holder served as the chief American legal counsel for UBS. Mr. Holder was paid handsomely for his very hard work, many millions of dollars, to be sure. One can be quite certain that UBS did not give him all that money so he would expose the internal operation of UBS to public scrutiny.

Two years ago, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman stated that the IRS was insisting that UBS give American authorities the names of all 52,000 Americans who had illegal bank accounts in that nation that were unreported to the IRS. Not long thereafter, Mr. Holder overruled the IRS. Rather than give all 52,000 names, he ruled that it would be merely necessary to give a "substantial number" of names, and Mr. Holder defined "substantial number" to be about 4,500 - less than 1 out of 10.

It is clear that any "investigation" Mr. Holder supervises concerning Swiss banks will be half-hearted and will pull its punches as it merely goes through the motions.

In striking contrast to Mr. Holder is William K. Black, a former federal prosecutor now teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School. Mr. Black has an international reputation as the foremost expert on exposing and disrupting the mechanisms by which bank fraud, money laundering and tax evasion occur.

In just a few months, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will be retiring from his position. Shouldn't Congress insist that the Obama administration select someone like Mr. Black to be his replacement? An FBI director who is not afraid to give the attorney general constructive criticism is in everyone's best interests.

CLIFTON WELLMAN

Elmhurst, N.Y.

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