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UBS wins motion to dismiss US tax case

A United States court has rejected a complaint by property billionaire Igor Olenicoff that Swiss bank UBS was responsible for his failure to declare off-shore accounts.

The Russian-American tycoon sued UBS in 2008, accusing the bank of fraud, conspiracy and other charges relating to the handling of some $200 million ($183 million) he kept in offshore accounts.

Olenicoff claimed that UBS had wrongfully advised him that he did not have to report the accounts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The district court judge in Santa Ana, California ruled that because Olenicoff already had pleaded guilty to tax evasion, it was “directly inconsistent for him now to claim that he unwittingly relied on UBS's counsel”.

Olenicoff pleaded guilty in 2007 to filing a false tax return, admitting he didn’t tell the IRS about his offshore accounts for seven years. He was ordered to pay $52 million in back taxes, fines and penalties.

The IRS was tipped off about Olenicoff by his former UBS advisor-turned-whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, who has been behind bars since January 2010, serving a 40-month sentence for his part in UBS activities.

UBS avoided prosecution in 2009 by handing over 4,450 client names and paying $780 million in fines relating to its US business after admitting "improper activities" carried out by some of its employees.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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