U.S. officials arrest Swiss banker: sources

Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:02pm EDT
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By Katharina Bart

ZURICH (Reuters) - U.S. officials have arrested a former UBS UBSN.VX banker working for the Swiss operations of Coutts, the private banking division of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS.L: Quote), sources told Reuters.

The arrest comes as U.S. authorities crack down on tax evasion and has revived Swiss bankers' fears that they could face detention if they travel to the United States and are suspected of helping people hide money in offshore accounts.

Coutts notified staff in Geneva on Friday that one of its private bankers had been arrested last week when he entered the U.S. for a vacation, a source familiar with the situation said.

A Swiss government source said on Monday they did not know whether the person arrested had been charged. Neither source gave a reason for the arrest.

"The Federal Department for Foreign Affairs has knowledge of the temporary arrest of a Swiss citizen in New York and is providing support in terms of consular protection," the Swiss government said in an emailed statement, declining to provide details or name the person because of Swiss privacy laws.

According to Swiss media reports, the man was transferred to Miami and fitted with an electronic surveillance bracelet. The reports did not make it clear whether he remains in custody.

"As far as we are aware, Coutts is not a target of any U.S. investigation," the bank said.

"The U.S. is not a target market for Coutts and it is our policy to only do business with U.S. declared, or U.S. tax compliant clients," Coutts said.   Continued...

A logo from a Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) branch is seen reflected in a window in the City of London March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville