Italy: Swiss Banker Arrested for Laundering Money

Published: 23 October 2013


Italian police arrested Swiss banker Raoul Weil at a luxury hotel in Bologna on Friday when he checked into the hotel using his own name which is on an international fugitive list, the International Business Times reports.

Weil rose to be chief executive and chairman of the global wealth management service at UBS, where, according to The Wall Street Journal, "85 percent of its roughly 20,000 American clients had hidden their identities and bank accounts from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service."

Weil was indicted in 2008 for helping wealthy clients avoid taxes on US$20 billion in assets from 2002 to 2007.  He failed to appear at a United States federal court in January 2009.  If extradited to the US, he could face a five-year sentence and $250,000 in fines.

The banker has denied the charges.  Weil's new employer, financial service provider Reuss Private Group, stated that "there was nothing against him in Switzerland. He was fully transparent about his situation and there was no reason not to appoint him as chief executive."

Weil had continued to work in banking for years after his indictment before being arrested in Italy.  An Italian police spokesman said that Weil did not explain why he was in Bologna.

For most of the 20th century, Swiss banking laws allowed clients more secrecy than other countries and often aided in hiding revenue from other nations.  This leniency allowed Weil and others to allegedly hide billions of dollars in assets from the IRS.  The United States began an attempted crackdown on financial crimes utilizing Swiss banks beginning with UBS.  Following Weil's indictment, UBS admitted helping clients evade taxes and paid $780 million in fines.