Reuters - Financials

Former UBS banker avoids jail after serving as U.S. witness

Oct 5 A former Swiss banker who pleaded guilty to aiding Americans hide money from U.S. tax authorities was sentenced to five years probation and fined $ 150,000 in a West Palm Beach federal court on Monday, his lawyer said.

Hansruedi Schumacher, 57, was indicted in 2009 along with a Swiss tax attorney and charged with conspiring to defraud the United States. He faced six years in prison but prosecutors asked a judge for a reduced sentence due to his cooperation with investigators.

He was regional market manager for UBS AG’s North American international business from the 1990s through mid-2002. Following his 2014 arrest he cooperated as a key witness in the case against Raoul Weil, a former top-ranking UBS banker who oversaw an estimated $ 4 trillion in assets.

During his trial Schumacher described how Swiss bankers would regularly travel to the United States with laptops bearing secret hard drives and unmarked client invoices tucked between the pages of newspapers and magazines.

“In doing so saw his name in the headlines of every major financial newspaper, and in television broadcasts, as the man who defied his country and countrymen by renouncing Swiss law,” Schumacher’s attorney Peter Raben wrote in court documents.

Schumacher had testified that Weil was part of a bank committee facing an Internal Revenue Service program to identify wealthy U.S. tax cheats worldwide.

Yet he later admitted under questioning that Weil wasn’t involved in plans to steer clients toward opaque, offshore companies that shielded their assets from U.S. tax authorities.

A jury took only 75 minutes to find Weil not guilty following a three-week trial.

U.S. authorities have charged more than two dozen people with assisting tax evasion via Swiss banks since 2008. In 2009 UBS paid $ 780 million in fines and turned over names of more than 4,000 clients. (Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh)

Reuters: Financials

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