Former UBS banker in US tax fraud case

City A.M. Reporter

RAL prosecutors have charged a former UBS banker with encouraging his wealthy American clients not to disclose to US tax authorities they had money in offshore accounts.

Renzo Gadola, an investment adviser based in Switzerland, faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, the US attorney’s office in Miami said in a statement yesterday.

Gadola, a Swiss citizen who worked at UBS from 1995 to 2008, was arrested on 8 November, two days after meeting a client at a Miami hotel and allegedly attempting to persuade the person from disclosing offshore account information to US officials.

In filed court documents, US officials charged Gadola worked with another unidentified former UBS banker to hide clients’ money from US tax scrutiny by shifting undeclared funds from UBS accounts to Switzerland-based Basler Kantonalbank.

Gadola told authorities there must have been a case of mistaken identity that led to his arrest, according to court papers.

He pleaded not guilty in an appearance before a judge on Tuesday. Lawyers for Gadola were not immediately available for comment.

The unnamed ex-UBS banker was described by prosecutors as a former executive director for UBS’s North America International business, who left the bank seven years ago, taking 150 clients with him to set up an independent investment group in Switzerland.

The case comes after US authorities recently ended a probe into UBS, which was charged by federal prosecutors with helping roughly 17,000 clients with $20bn of assets hide their accounts from the Internal Revenue Service. As part of a settlement, Zurich-based UBS paid $780m and handed over the names of more than 250 client accounts and ended its US cross-border banking business.

In the Gadola case, prosecutors said the unidentified Swiss banker received some $445,000 from a Mississippi client before transferring it first to UBS and then to a Basler Kantonalbank account. The client later said he wanted to declare the money under a voluntary disclosure programme, but was advised against it because his account was too small.