Ex-UBS Banker Schumacher Pleads Guilty in U.S. Tax Probe

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Former UBS AG executive Hansruedi Schumacher pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. as part of the government’s prosecution of financial industry officials who help Americans dodge taxes.

Schumacher, 56, entered his plea Thursday in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Schumacher, who also worked at Neue Zuercher Bank and once ran the cross-border business for UBS, was indicted in August 2009 on a charge of helping U.S. citizens evade taxes on UBS and NZB accounts.

After being declared a fugitive in December 2009, he surrendered to U.S. authorities last year and testified against his former UBS boss, Raoul Weil, in a trial in October.

Jurors acquitted Weil of charges he directed bankers to help thousands of UBS clients cheat the Internal Revenue Service.

Schumacher testified that he oversaw UBS accounts for about 15,000 U.S. clients in 1999 and most were structured to hide the money from American authorities.

The bank charged higher fees for so-called black accounts than U.S. banks charged, but clients saved money by avoiding taxes, he said.

Schumacher left UBS in 2002. He worked at NZB from 2002 to 2009.

His indictment was part of a crackdown on offshore tax evasion. More than 50 UBS clients and four other bankers have pleaded guilty. Sentencing will be set at a later date.

‘Very Fair’

“The government was very fair to Mr. Schumacher,” defense attorney Peter Raben said by e-mail after the hearing. “He is one of a handful of Swiss bankers who had the courage to recognize that the days of outlaw tax havens have gone the way of the dinosaur.”

UBS avoided prosecution in February 2009 by admitting it helped clients evade taxes from 2000 to 2007. The bank also paid $780 million, gave the IRS data on 250 secret accounts and agreed to reveal information on 4,450 more.

The case is U.S. v. Schumacher, 09-cr-60210, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

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