UBS ac­knowl­edges slav­ery ties

Doc­u­ments show man con­nected with firm owned a slave in 1800s

Chicago Sun-Times - - Business - BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Re­porter

UBS Se­cu­ri­ties LLC, a global fi­nan­cial ser­vices firm, has be­come the fifth city con­trac­tor to ad­mit past ties to slav­ery.

In a sworn af­fi­davit filed in con­nec­tion with its role as se­nior man­ager of an O’Hare Air­port bond is­sue, UBS said it re­cently learned of two doc­u­ments that show that a Swiss man named Ja­cob Gsell had two ser­vants, at least one of whom was a slave.

Gsell ap­par­ently em­ployed the ser­vants, iden­ti­fied as “An­to­nio and Joaquin,” while liv­ing in Brazil from 1836 to 1847, the UBS dis­clo­sure states.

“Bank records in­di­cate that, af­ter his re­turn to the Swiss city of St. Gallen, Gsell was one of 26 founders of a small bank in 1856. That en­tity merged into or was ab­sorbed by Swiss Union Bank in 1888. Swiss Union Bank be­came part of Swiss Bank Cor­po­ra­tion, a UBS AG pre­de­ces­sor, in 1897,” the af­fi­davit states.

The UBS af­fi­davit was signed by UBS Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Nancy Claw­son, who worked as the city’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at O’Hare be­fore mar­shalling Mayor Da­ley’s crack­down against mi­nor­ity busi­ness fraud. Claw­son re­fused to com­ment.

Over the past 108 years, the en­tity known as UBS has “ab­sorbed, through pur­chase or merger, ap­prox­i­mately 102 small banks and fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies,” UBS stated.

Ald. Dorothy Till­man (3rd), City Coun­cil ad­vo­cate for slave repa­ra­tions, wel­comed UBS’ dis­clo­sure.

UBS is the fifth city con­trac­tor to ad­mit past ties to slav­ery, join­ing Wa­chovia Se­cu­ri­ties, LaSalle Bank, Lehman Brothers and JPMor­gan Chase.

fspiel­man@suntimes.com

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