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Tax cheat sentenced as Swiss give US bank data

A Texas businessman who admitted to using Swiss bank accounts at UBS to cheat on his taxes has been sentenced in the United States to one year of house arrest.

This content was published on July 27, 2010 - 23:17

A Miami federal judge also sentenced the man to three years of probation. His lawyer said he is paying $832,000 (SFr880,000) in back taxes, including penalties and interest, and that his client had helped investigators find other cheats and their advisers.

That hunt is well underway. Swiss authorities said on Tuesday they have given the US account information on about 2,500 UBS clients so far. That is more than half of the 4,450 files the bank has agreed to hand over while American tax authorities clamp down on offshore cheats.

The files are part of a deal worked out between Switzerland and the US after UBS was accused of helping wealthy Americans hide assets in Switzerland away from American tax collectors. UBS paid $780 million in fines last year and agreed to produce files on other suspected cheats, but that put the bank on a collision course at home with Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws. Parliament eventually approved the deal on June 17.

The man sentenced on Tuesday, a 55-year-old oil industry supplier, had attempted to voluntarily disclose his illegal accounts in October 2009 to the Internal Revenue Service under a program that would allow him to avoid prosecution, something about 15,000 other offshore account holders did. He was rejected because the IRS had already obtained his name from UBS, which had handed over an initial batch of about 250 files.

Switzerland has until August 26 to deliver all of the files. Of the remaining 2,000 files, 700 are currently being worked on, while another 300 are being appealed or do not fall under the terms of the agreement. Work is finished on 950 more files, but a deadline for appealing against handing them over has not yet expired, Swiss tax authorities said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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