Department of Justice Aggressively Targeting Individual Bankers and Professionals of Swiss Banks

Fugitive Raoul Weil, 54, has been arrested in Italy after checking into the I Portici Hotel Bologna on October 19th. Due to being on the international fugitive list, he was arrested at the hotel and is now being held in an Italian prison waiting to find out if he will be extradited to the United States.

Weil is the former head of the global wealth management business of UBS. He was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of conspiring to help 20,000 Americans conceal $20 billion in taxable assets from the IRS from 2002 to 2007. He has been a fugitive from United States for more than four years.

Hundreds of other Swiss bankers who enabled U.S. tax evasion may also risk arrest if traveling outside of Switzerland, even if they do not know they are at risk, because some may be the subject of U.S. indictments not made public (see F.R.Cr.P 6(e)(4) regarding sealed indictments). This U.S. criminal initiative targeting Swiss enablers of U.S. tax evaders may cause Swiss bankers to alter their travel plans, effectively imprisoning them in Switzerland out of fear of arrest. This might not seem like a big deal to someone used to the vastness of the United States. But remember, Switzerland is a very small country and may feel confining to businessmen used to global traveling.

This demonstrates that the U.S. Department of Justice does have a global reach and real leverage in forcing bankers and banks to comply with demands for information on U.S. tax evaders. Thus, many Swiss banks may utilize the recently announced Department of Justice settlement program for Swiss banks by making voluntary disclosures to the U.S.

See our blog post on this settlement program here.

It is unclear why Raoul Weil traveled to Italy. If it was for vacation, this could end up being a very costly vacation for him. Weil may spend up to five years in prison and pay up to $250,000 in fines if extradited from Italy to the United States and convicted of tax evasion charges. Switzerland does not extradite its own citizens without their consent and thus extradition from Switzerland is very rare.

If you have assets in a foreign country or a foreign bank account and fear prosecution by the United States, we can help. The best chance of success is by having a knowledgeable and experienced tax attorney on your side. The Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing has tons of experience with handling the complexities of taxation and criminal exposure within the context of this type of criminal investigation.  Please contact us if you need help…