ABC's Ross Blasts Swiss Bank for Sponsoring Art Show

    No art for you! That’s the message ABC investigative correspondent Brian Ross sent to Swiss bank UBS.


     Ross, who has found a niche storming corporate gatherings in an attempt to expose alleged wrongdoing, targeted a UBS-sponsored art show in a “World News with Charles Gibson” segment Dec. 4.


     “For the world’s super rich, this five-day art show in Miami is one of the year’s social highlights,” Ross said. “In a convention hall full of fine art, celebrities and rolling champagne bars – bad economic times seem a world away.”


     So what’s wrong with the “super rich” holding an art event? According to Ross, the bank is under a federal investigation and no one seems to care that it is using the event to recruit prospective clients.


     “It’s one big shopping spree and no one here seems to mind that the main sponsor is a Swiss bank, UBS, under federal criminal investigation,” Ross said. “Federal prosecutors say they know a different history of the Zurich-based UBS – a bank where top executives are under investigation for helping rich Americans hide billions of dollars from the IRS in secret accounts.”


     Ross implied the mere existence of an investigation was enough to prove guilt. But he failed to mention that it’s unlikely UBS needs to hide American money through illegal activities – UBS is Europe’s second-largest bank with an annual operating income of nearly $4 billion.


     Still, Ross played the class warfare card and accosted organizers of the art show he staked out for taking money from a company under federal investigation.


     “The art show organizers say they are proud to take UBS’s sponsorship money,” Ross said. “As for federal prosecutors, they care a lot less about the bank’s art patronage and care a lot more about finally getting the names of an estimated 20,000 wealthy Americans for whom UBS set up secret offshore accounts.”


     But even while purporting to expose unethical behavior, some of Ross’ “investigation” tactics blur a journalistic ethics line. The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics instructs reporters to “avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public.” Though his report on UBS did not use hidden cameras other similar reports have. Ross also used undercover cameras in coverage of the Republican and Democratic political conventions and more recently an AIG conference.


     During the Democratic National Convention in Denver earlier this year, an ABC News producer with Ross’ investigative unit was arrested and charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order.