For many Swiss bankers, UBS’s admission in 2009 that it fostered tax evasion -- and the steep penalty that came with it -- was a reason to purge their U.S. accounts.
Bloomberg News reports that others, such as former Bank Frey & Co. AG executive Stefan Buck, saw it as a business opportunity, federal prosecutors said Monday at the start of his trial on charges he helped customers hide millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service.
"Bank Frey welcomed those tax cheats in with open arms, and Buck was part of the welcoming committee," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Elizabeth Paul told jurors during opening statements in Buck’s trial in Manhattan. "Bank Frey was willing to do what other Swiss banks were unwilling to do."
The trial is a rare courtroom showdown in a nearly decade-old federal crackdown on tax evasion aided by Swiss lenders. Buck and a Swiss lawyer, Edgar Paltzer, were indicted in April 2013, accused of opening and maintaining undeclared accounts on behalf of U.S. taxpayers who told them they would be forced to close accounts at other banks. Paltzer pleaded guilty that year and is cooperating with prosecutors.
Buck’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, pointed the finger at the government’s witnesses in the case, noting that some of the taxpayers who will testify for the prosecution have been evading taxes since the 1970s, while his client was born in 1980.
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For One Swiss Banker, Crackdown Was Opportunity, Prosecutors Say