Thursday, November 6, 2014

UBS Exec Acquitted of Helping Americans Evade $20B in Taxes

A former UBS AG executive Raoul Weil was found not guilty of conspiring with US clients to hide $20 billion from the IRS in secret international bank accounts. “Weil was the highest-ranking Swiss banker prosecuted under an IRS and Justice Department crackdown on Americans’ use of offshore accounts to dodge U.S. taxes,” reports the Associated Press.

The verdict comes as a blow to the US government, which has been increasingly pursuing international banks and Americans who use offshore accounts to dodge taxes. It also was surprising: In 2009 UBS paid a $780 million US fine for helping US citizens avoid taxes. The Swiss banking giant disclosed thousands of American account holder names, many of whom were later prosecuted by the IRS.

Testimony against Weil detailed the lengths to which the banker supposedly went in order to conceal wrongdoing. Weil allegedly kept sensitive client data under a “solitaire” game tab on an encrypted laptop with an emergency password that would delete any trace of the customer’s data if it was seen by the wrong person.

A DOJ spokesperson said that, despite the verdict, the US government will continue pursuing banks, and their executives, suspected of helping wealthy Americans avoid billions in taxes.

For more commentary on the verdict see Newsweek,  The Wall Street Journal and CNBC.