NEW YORK (AFP) – A former top-level UBS banker will stand trial in the United States this week accused of helping rich Americans evade millions of dollars in taxes.
Five years after being charged with conspiracy to commit tax fraud, Raoul Weil, 54, the former head of the Swiss banking giant’s global wealth management business, plans to plead not guilty at the federal trial that opens Tuesday in Florida.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a hefty fine.
“He is not guilty,” his lawyer Aaron Marcu told AFP. “The same people at UBS who were doing bad things and helping clients hiding assets are the same who are going to testify against him.”
The Weil case is a high-profile part of the massive US crackdown on offshore tax dodging, particularly in Switzerland, renowned for its vault-like banking secrecy.
According to the indictment, between 2002 and 2007, as Zurich-based Weil supervised the bank’s overseas activities that serviced some 20,000 customers, he and his co-conspirators helped US customers conceal around $20 billion in assets from tax authorities.
The Swiss national was declared a fugitive by the US.
Fired by UBS in April 2009, Weil joined the wealth management firm Reuss Private Group in 2010 as a consultant, then became head of the company in early 2013.
That career came to an end when he was arrested in October 2013 after using his real name to check into a luxury hotel in Bologna, Italy and he was extradited to the United States.