Swiss banker pleads guilty in U.S. tax fraud case

* Ex-UBS banker helped U.S. client hide money offshore

* Case shows U.S. also targeting advisers in tax fraud

By Kevin Gray

MIAMI, Dec 22 (BestGrowthStock) – A former UBS banker pleaded
guilty on Wednesday to charges he helped wealthy American
clients hide their money from U.S. tax authorities as American
officials stepped up a crackdown on offshore tax evasion.

Renzo Gadola, a Swiss citizen who worked at UBS AG
(UBSN.VX: ) (UBS.N: ) from 1995 to 2008 and was arrested last
month, entered his plea in a Miami federal court.

U.S. authorities say Gadola, an investment adviser based in
Switzerland, encouraged his clients not to disclose their
undeclared offshore accounts.

He was charged with working with another unidentified
ex-UBS banker in helping clients shift their undeclared money
from UBS accounts to a smaller Switzerland-based bank, Basler
Kantonalbank.

Gadola is out on bond but faces up to five years in jail.
Sentencing in his case is set for March 10.

The case has again cast light on how some bankers worked to
assist wealthy Americans conceal their money from the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) even as U.S. authorities cracked down on
rich tax cheats in a probe that mushroomed into a major
international judicial and diplomatic affair involving UBS.

“The lesson here is that the IRS is not only investigating
and prosecuting the owners of the undeclared foreign accounts,”
Rubinstein & Rubinstein, a New York-based law firm, said in
commentary about the Gadola case.

“The IRS is also targeting people who facilitated and
assisted in non-compliance,” it said. “Even smaller banks are
‘on the radar’.”

U.S. authorities recently ended their probe into UBS, which
had been charged by federal prosecutors with helping roughly
17,000 clients with $20 billion in assets hide their accounts
from the IRS.

UBS paid $780 million as part of a settlement and handed
over the names of more than 250 client accounts and ended its
U.S. cross-border banking business.

Prosecutors say Gadola’s case involved a Mississippi client
who had kept $445,000 in a safe deposit box before transferring
it first to UBS and then to a Basler Kantonalbank account.

The client later told Gadola and the unidentified Swiss
banker he wanted to declare the money under a voluntary
disclosure program launched by the IRS, but was advised against
it because the amount of money was too small.

Gadola was arrested after a Nov. 6 meeting with the client
at a Miami hotel. Prosecutors say he tried to dissuade the
client from declaring the funds by saying there was “99.9
percent” chance the money would never be discovered by U.S. tax
officials.
(Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Tim Dobbyn)

Swiss banker pleads guilty in U.S. tax fraud case