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US prosecutors score first win over UBS clients

One of the first clients of the Swiss bank UBS to face charges in the United States has pled guilty to one count of tax fraud, authorities said on Thursday.

This content was published on June 25, 2009 - 20:18

The US Department of Justice said a Florida accountant who worked for a yacht brokerage admitted to filing a false tax return for 2004 and to failing to disclose the account he controlled.

Prosecutors said the man communicated with UBS bankers between 2001 and 2008 about buying and selling more than SFr4.5 million ($4.1 million) worth of securities, and that he converted and funnelled money into and out of Swiss accounts before bringing it back into the US.

The Boca Raton resident becomes the first resolved prosecution of a UBS client based on information the Swiss bank handed to US authorities earlier this year.

He could face three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 (SFr275,000), or twice the amount he gained – or the US Internal Revenue Service lost – through his actions. He remains free on a $12 million bail.

US authorities have said there will be other tax evasion prosecutions against American clients of UBS as they wage a legal battle with the bank to try to force it to give up the names of tens of thousands of people suspected of cheating the US government by concealing accounts abroad.

In February, UBS acknowledged responsibility for helping U.S. clients conceal assets from the US government and agreed to pay a $780 million fine and to identify some US clients. US officials say this prosecution stemmed from the bank's cooperation.

But, fearing they might get only a limited number of names, US authorities are suing UBS to force it to disclose the identities of 52,000 US clients suspected of using the Swiss bank to evade taxes.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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