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Senior UBS executive acquitted in US trial

Thursday, 6 November, 2014

A US court has acquitted Raoul Weil, the former head of UBS's global wealth management unit, of charges that he helped American clients conceal assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

Weil was indicted in 2008 on a charge that he conspired to help 17,000 US taxpayers evade taxes on USD20 billion of assets. He denied the charges, which could have entailed a five-year prison sentence and a USD250,000 fine, but resigned from the UBS board.

Weil, a Swiss national, was indicted in the US in 2008. In February 2009 he was declared a fugitive from US justice, and was arrested in Italy on a US fugitive warrant in October 2013, while on holiday with his wife. Two months later he flew to the US to answer the charges, which he denied.

The case came to trial in Florida last month. The chief prosecution witness was Martin Liechti, former UBS head of cross-border banking. According to news reports, Liechti’s non-prosecution agreement said the US Department of Justice (DoJ) would not prosecute him ‘for any crimes he committed related to a tax fraud scheme’ if he agreed to testify.

Weil did not testify at the trial and his defence team, which did not call any witnesses, argued that the people responsible for any tax offences were other UBS staff who acted without Weil's knowledge. The jury acquitted Weil after deliberating for 75 minutes.

Nicole Navas, a USDoJ spokesperson is quoted saying that the decision 'would not impact the department's ongoing commitment to holding offshore tax evaders and those who aid them accountable'. The USDoJ reportedly still has more than 30 indictments outstanding against various bankers, lawyers and financial advisors.

Sources