Raoul Weil, who once ran UBS's global wealth-management business, referred to accounts hidden by U.S. clients from the Internal Revenue Service as 'toxic waste,' a witness at his tax-conspiracy trial said.
Bloomberg News reports that Martin Liechti, a former UBS banker cooperating with prosecutors, told federal jurors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that Weil knew in 2002 that thousands of accounts opened at the Swiss bank by U.S. clients didn’t comply with tax laws.
'Mr. Weil said, ‘The North American business is toxic waste,’' Liechti told jurors on Thursday.
Liechti, the former UBS head of banking in the Americas, is one of several ex-bankers to testify against Weil. He offered the most direct evidence that his boss knew the firm was helping clients hide accounts from the IRS. Weil’s lawyer has blamed the U.S. case on 'rogue' bankers testifying against him to save themselves.
Weil, 54, is the highest-ranking official among three dozen foreign bankers, lawyers and advisers charged in a seven-year U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion. He was indicted in 2008 on charges of conspiring to help as many as 17,000 U.S. taxpayers hide $20 billion from the IRS. He was arrested last year in Bologna, Italy, and waived extradition.
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