Key witness testifies in UBS tax evasion trial

Liechti in an archive picture from 2008 when he testified before a US Senate committee looking into tax haven banks. Keystone

This content was published on October 23, 2014 - 20:49 and agencies

Martin Liechti has accused former top Swiss bank executive Raoul Weil of knowingly breaking the law. Weil is on trial in the United States for conspiring to conceal up to $20 billion (CHF19 million) in US taxpayers’ assets.

Liechti, a former head of the wealth management division for the Americas at UBS, told the court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday that his former boss put profits above the law and ignored the risks for the bank and advisors.

Weil who oversaw the Caribbean operations, signed off on his plan to move client assets out of the islands to Switzerland, according to Liechti.

54-year old Weil, who denies any wrongdoing, is the highest-ranking foreign banker to be charged in the US government’s legal campaign to stamp out offshore tax evasion.

Correspondents say tension was running high during Thursday’s court proceedings which were marked by interventions from the defendant’s lawyer.

On Wednesday, another witness said Weil had flown to the US in 2002 to meet UBS customers personally.

The trial which opened ten days ago is expected to last up to four weeks.

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