Former top Swiss banking executive Raoul Weil was acquitted of charges that he helped wealthy American client hide their $20 billion in secret accounts. The jury deliberated for just 90 minutes before reaching their verdict.
Charges for conspiring to defraud the U.S. government include five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. While Raoul Weil’s attorney believes that this was a case that “should have never been brought”, prosecutors declined to comment on the decision. However, in the closing argument, the government stated that the case against Weil was “clear” because he did everything he could to run and protect a profitable business that abetted American taxpayers in hiding their money. Weil’s attorney blamed lower-ranking UBS bankers for acting without Weil’s consent or knowledge in aiding US clients. He also placed the blame on the American clients, stating that it was their responsibility to pay taxes. Weil himself did not testify. No witnesses were put on the stand.
Raoul Weil, a Swiss Citizen and former head of UBS’s global wealth management business from 2002 through 2008, was arrested in Bologna on October 19. In November 2008, when he was still working with UBS, United States charged Weil for conspiring to help 17,000 Americans hide assets in Switzerland worth $20 billion. A few months later, after he failed to surrender to authorities, he was declared a fugitive. The banker was arrested on a private visit to Italy at the “I Portici” Hotel in central Bologna and taken to city’s Dozza prison.
In 2009, UBS was fined $780 million for aiding American clients in tax evasion. The Swiss banking giant also had to disclose names of thousands of account holders to the IRS. Approximately 7,010 U.S. taxpayers concealed their assets in UBS accounts.
Abajian Law currently represents several former UBS bank account holders that are under civil income tax and FBAR audits. The Service has been very aggressive in these audits, interviewing several witnesses and the taxpayer, and proposing significant penalties.