On January 3, 2012, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, announced the indictment of three Swiss bankers from Wegelin & Company on charges they conspired to impede and impair the IRS. The defendants, Michael Berlinka, Urs Frei and Roger Keller, referred to as Client Advisors at Swiss Bank A, are accused of helping more than 100 U.S. taxpayers hide more than $1.2 billion in income and assets from the IRS by “opening and servicing “undeclared accounts.”
Berlinka, Frei and Keller are accused of opening about a dozen accounts in 2008 and 2009, in the wake if the U.S. government’s began investigation of UBS AG. Renzo Gadola, a former senior banker at UBS AG, was recently sentenced to five years probation for his role in advising U.S. citizens on how to conceal funds in offshore accounts.
The indictment comes after reports that the U.S. gave 11 Swiss banks a December 20, 2011 deadline to turn over detailed information on their offshore banking businesses in order to avoid legal action. In November 2011, Credit Suisse, the second largest bank in Switzerland, produced details on 130 Americans suspected of evading billions of dollars in taxes.
If convicted Berlinka, Frei and Keller each face up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000.