Ex-UBS banker wanted in US is arrested in Italy

A FORMER top executive at Swiss bank UBS wanted in the US for allegedly helping wealthy Americans avoid paying tax was arrested in Italy at the weekend, the Bologna police said yesterday.

The US declared Raoul Weil a fugitive in early 2009 after the former head of UBS’s wealth management business failed to surrender to US authorities on charges he conspired to help 17,000 Americans hide assets worth $20bn in Swiss bank accounts.

That year, UBS was fined $780m and agreed to hand over the names of about 4,450 US clients with secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid facing criminal charges. The deal with the United States marked an historic break with Switzerland’s tradition of bank secrecy.

A spokeswoman for the Bologna police said yesterday that the arrest of the former banker had taken place on Saturday morning and she did not know whether he was still in the prison where police had taken him.

“Mr Weil checked into a Bologna hotel and this set off an alert system because there is an international arrest warrant for him coming from the US,” the spokeswoman said.

When Weil was indicted in November 2008, his attorney said he was innocent and called the indictment against him “totally unjustified”.

A UBS spokesman said that Weil had been discharged from this duties at the bank when he was indicted.

He was hired as chief executive of Reuss Private Group in Switzerland earlier this year, after working there as a consultant since 2010.

A spokesman for the asset management group, told City A.M. that the Swiss financial authority FINMA had cleared Weil of any wrongdoing. The firm has yet to find out whether Weil is likely to be held in jail in Bologna or would be extradited to the US.