Former UBS banker accused of helping tax dodgers agress to US extradition

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Raoul Weil, a former UBS banker charged by U.S. authorities five years ago for allegedly helping rich Americans dodge taxes via secret Swiss bank accounts, has agreed to go to the United States to face trial after being arrested in Italy, Weil's lawyer and judicial sources told Reuters.

Reuters reports that Weil, a 54-year-old Swiss citizen, has been held in an Italian jail for more than five weeks after police arrested him in a hotel in Bologna where he was holidaying with his wife.

U.S. authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Weil in early 2009, just months after he was charged for allegedly conspiring to help 17,000 American clients of Swiss bank UBS avoid taxes.

"Mr. Weil agreed to extradition to the U.S. because he has always been prepared to confront these charges," Weil's lawyer, Aaron R. Marcu of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in New York, said. Weil has said he has committed no wrongdoing.

Judicial sources told Reuters Weil had agreed to be extradited at a court hearing in Bologna on Monday.

The U.S. Justice Department spokespeople in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday, which is a holiday the United States.

Weil's indictment in November 2008 was a landmark in efforts by U.S. authorities to clamp down on the use of offshore Swiss bank accounts.

His indictment raised the pressure on UBS, which in February 2009 admitted tax fraud and agreed to pay a $780m fine in a historic deal that also involved the disclosure of thousands of names of its American clients to U.S. authorities, a big blow to traditional Swiss banking privacy.

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