Swiss bank UBS – one of the “proud partners” of the PGA Tour’s Players Championship – has admitted to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and agreed to pay $780 million to settle the investigation.
The acknowledgment by UBS, the largest bank in Switzerland, was another bad dose of sponsor-related news for the Tour. Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission seized control of Stanford Financial under allegations it may have defrauded investors of as much as $8 billion, in part, by selling certificates of deposits that promised falsified returns. Stanford is the title sponsor of the Tour’s Memphis stop June 11-14.
The stunning admission by UBS that it had helped American clients use offshore accounts to evade taxes made international headlines.
The bank signed a 6-year deal as a major supporter of The Players in 2005. Its financial contributions were estimated at $12 million to $14 million annually – a portion of which helped finance the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass.
Asked if the Tour is reevaluating its partnership with UBS or concerned that its affiliation would reflect poorly on the Tour, officials declined to comment. But in a written statement, Ty Votaw – the Tour’s executive vice president, communications and international affairs – stood by the sponsor.
“We will say that UBS has been a terrific partner of The Players since 2005, which has been the focus of our relationship,” Votaw said. “We look forward to UBS’ continued support of The Players as a proud partner.”