Swiss bank to pay $57.8M in US tax evasion plea

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm •  Published: January 3, 2013

Prosecutors said Wegelin in 2008 and 2009 opened and serviced dozens of new accounts for U.S. taxpayers as it tried to capture clients lost by UBS after word surfaced that that UBS was being investigated for helping U.S. taxpayers evade taxes and hide assets in Swiss bank accounts.

Wegelin employees told U.S. taxpayer-clients that their undeclared accounts would not be disclosed to U.S. authorities because the bank had a long tradition of secrecy, prosecutors said. They added that the employees persuaded U.S. taxpayer-clients to move money from UBS to Wegelin by claiming that, unlike UBS, Wegelin did not have offices outside of Switzerland and would be less vulnerable to U.S. law enforcement.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said, Wegelin took additional steps to hide the accounts, including by putting them in the names of sham corporations and foundations formed under the laws of jurisdictions that included Hong Kong and Panama and by using code names and numbers to minimize references to the actual names of U.S. taxpayers on Swiss bank documents. They said the bank also was careful not to send account statements to U.S. clients in the United States and corresponded with clients through private email accounts.

In February 2009, UBS entered a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. authorities and agreed to pay $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution.