Friday, August 05, 2011

Former UBS banker charged with conspiring to hide $$$ in Swiss accounts

From the U.S. Department of Justice:

Defendant Also Assisted U.S. Taxpayers in Moving Assets From UBS to Other Swiss Banks to Avoid U.S. Law Enforcement

NEW YORK – A former UBS AG banker and then an independent financial adviser, was indicted today for conspiring to hide more than $215 million offshore at various Swiss banks. While working at UBS and at two other Swiss asset management firms, Gian Gisler had more than 38 U.S. taxpayer clients and allegedly opened and/or managed more than 60 hidden accounts on their behalf. Gisler left UBS in 2008 when it became public that UBS was the target of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation, and moved to a Swiss asset management firm so that he could continue to assist his U.S. taxpayer clients in hiding their accounts at other Swiss banks. When that firm ceased its private banking business, Gisler left for yet another Swiss asset management firm so that he could continue to engage in the same conduct.

Today’s announcement was made by Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Charles R. Pine, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the IRS - Criminal Investigation Division (CI).

According to the indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court:

From the mid 1990s until late 2008, Gisler was a client adviser at UBS. From early 2009 until at least 2010, Gisler was a client adviser at two different asset management firms (Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 1 and Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 2). From the mid-1990s through at least 2010, Gisler allegedly conspired with various U.S. taxpayers and others to ensure that his clients could hide their Swiss bank accounts and the income they generated from the IRS.

In 2001, UBS, one of the Swiss banks at which Gisler helped his U.S. taxpayer clients hide accounts, voluntarily agreed with the IRS to collect information from account holders concerning the true owners of accounts at those banks. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Gisler, together with his U.S. taxpayer clients and others, used sham entities created under the laws of countries other than the United States to hide from the IRS the Swiss bank accounts, and the income they generated, and to circumvent the commitments that UBS and, later, other Swiss banks, had made to the IRS.

In 2008, when it became publicly known that UBS was being investigated by law enforcement in the United States and UBS began to exit the business of assisting U.S. taxpayers in maintaining undeclared accounts in Switzerland, it became impossible for Gisler to continue assisting his U.S. clients in maintaining undeclared accounts at UBS. As a result, Gisler left the employment of UBS in late 2008.

Beginning in early 2009, Gisler started working for Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 1. At that time, he transferred the accounts of his U.S. taxpayer clients from UBS to other Swiss banks and managed their accounts while working at the firm. Later in 2009, Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 1 itself began to exit the business of assisting U.S. taxpayers in maintaining undeclared accounts. Gisler then left the firm and went to work for Swiss Asset Management Firm No. 2 and transferred the management of his U.S. taxpayer clients there so he could continue to manage their undeclared accounts.

In addition, Gisler provided other services to U.S. taxpayers. For example, on multiple occasions while in Manhattan, Gisler took more than $100,000 from at least one U.S. taxpayer who wanted to make a deposit into his undeclared UBS account, and provided it to other U.S. taxpayers who wanted to make withdrawals from their UBS accounts, so that no cash crossed the U.S. border.

The collective maximum value of the assets in undeclared accounts beneficially owned by U.S. taxpayer clients of Gisler, and that were allegedly opened with Gisler’s assistance or managed by him, was more than approximately $215 million.

On the conspiracy charge, Gisler faces a maximum term of five years in prison, a maximum term of three years of supervised release, and a fine of the greatest of $250,000, or twice the gross pecuniary gain derived from the offense or twice the gross pecuniary loss to the victims.

Gisler, 45, resides in Zurich, Switzerland.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of IRS-CI in the investigation, which he noted is ongoing. He also thanked U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division for their significant assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel W. Levy, David B. Massey and Jason H. Cowley are in charge of the prosecution.

The charge and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The indictment is here. Hat tip: Lucy Komisar


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