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EX-WEGELIN BANKER HELD US seeks banker handover after German arrest

Legal troubles continue for Switzerland's oldest bank despite its closure 

(Keystone)

The United States is pushing for Germany to extradite a former Swiss banker linked to helping American clients evade paying taxes.

German authorities confirmed the former banker’s arrest based on a US request for extradition. He was taken into custody at Frankfurt airport because Switzerland does not extradite its citizens. Frankfurt’s public prosecutor and the man’s lawyer in New York confirmed he was arrested and being held in jail awaiting a court ruling on extradition.

The man, who is not being named in accordance with Switzerland’s strict privacy laws, was one of three client advisers at Wegelin & Co., a now-defunct Swiss private bank, who were charged with helping American tax cheats.

In January 2013, Wegelin became the first non-American bank to plead guilty in the US to tax charges. Formerly headquartered in St Gallen, Wegelin said it had operated within bounds allowed for by Swiss law but admitted helping at least 100 American clients conceal more than $1.2 billion (CHF1.1 billion) in secret offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As a result of the plea in the federal court in Manhattan, Wegelin announced that it would close and paid US authorities about $74 million. That included $20 million in restitution to the IRS; a $22 million fine; forfeiture of more than $16.2 million; and an additional $15.8 million that represented the gross fees earned by the bank on undeclared accounts of US taxpayers between 2002 and 2011.

Wegelin had no branches outside Switzerland, but it accessed the US banking system through a correspondent bank account that it held at Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, in Connecticut.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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