US charges Swiss bank executive and lawyer with aiding tax evasion

Department of JusticeWashington  - A Swiss bank executive and lawyer have been charged in the United States with helping wealthy American clients hide their assets from US authorities, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The charges are partly connected to the long-running scandal involving Swiss banking giant UBS AG, which has admitted to helping some US clients avoid paying taxes.

Hansruedi Schumacher, an executive manager of Neue Zuercher Bank AG (NZB), and Swiss lawyer Matthias Rickenbach were charged in a Miami court with conspiring to defraud the United States. The two helped people evade taxes through a series of "deceptive means," including setting up sham offshore accounts.

Schumacher and Rickenbach allegedly encouraged US clients to transfer their assets from UBS to NZB, as the net began to close on UBS' shady practices. They are also accused of discouraging clients from coming clean with the US government.

An out-of-court settlement between the US and Swiss governments, which was detailed on Wednesday, will see UBS hand over the names of 4,450 US clients that may have committed tax fraud.

Thousands of US taxpayers have come forward voluntarily over the past year about their offshore accounts as details of the UBS case have emerged. The Justice Department said information from some of these disclosures helped lead them to Schumacher and Rickenbach. (dpa)