Christos Bagios, a former banker at UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) arrested amid a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion, pleaded guilty to helping Americans cheat on taxes from 1993 to 2009.
Bagios admitted today in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, that he conspired with five Swiss bankers when he worked at Zurich-based UBS, where he spent 15 years before joining Credit Suisse in 2009. Bagios, a Greek citizen who lived in Switzerland, was sentenced to time served. He spent 37 days in custody after his arrest on Jan. 26, 2011, in New York.
“He’s relieved,” Bagios’s attorney, Matthew Menchel, said after the hearing. “He’s excited to go home to be with his wife and family.”
Bagios cooperated with prosecutors probing his former UBS colleagues and customers. He pleaded guilty to a document known as a criminal information, admitting he helped nine clients who didn’t declare accounts to the Internal Revenue Service. One married couple from California had an undeclared “black” account and a declared “white” account.
“In furtherance of a plan to repatriate to the United States approximately $470,000 from their undeclared ‘black’ account, Christos Bagios permitted the customers to move the funds through the declared ‘white’ account that he managed,” according to a statement of facts filed in court today.
Bagios is one of about two dozen foreign bankers, lawyers or advisers charged since 2008 in the U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion. Seven current or former Credit Suisse bankers were indicted last year. Prosecutors also have charged about 50 U.S. taxpayers. UBS, the largest Swiss bank, avoided prosecution by paying $780 million, admitting it helped Americans cheat on taxes, and turning over data on secret accounts.
At least 11 other banks are under criminal investigation.
Bagios and his coconspirators told clients “not to disclose their undeclared accounts at UBS AG (UBSN) and other banks to the U.S. government, including the IRS,” according to the criminal information, filed Oct. 16.
In 2009, after Zurich-based UBS told U.S. customers that they needed to close undeclared accounts, Bagios told a client that he could potentially move his funds to an undeclared account at a Swiss cantonal bank, according to the statement of facts.
Since his release after 37 days in custody, Bagios spent 19 months in “conditions similar to home confinement,” according to his plea agreement entered in court today. His family in Switzerland made brief visits to see him in Florida. His mother died and he was unable to attend her funeral in Greece.
While Bagios’s conduct was serious, it was “not as egregious” as that of other colleagues at UBS, according to his plea agreement.
Bagios was fired from Credit Suisse in February 2012, according to the court documents.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, who accepted Bagios’s plea and sentenced him, granted his motion for emergency travel documents so he can renew his Greek passport and leave the country “as soon as practicable.”
The case is U.S. v. Bagios, 12-cr-60260, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).
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