Judge rejects house arrest bid by jailed ex-UBS banker: source

Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:29am EST
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By Lisa Jucca

BOLOGNA, Italy (Reuters) - An ex-UBS UBSN.VX banker charged in the United States with conspiring to help Americans dodge taxes using Swiss bank accounts must remain behind bars in Italy after a judge turned down his request for house arrest, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

Raoul Weil, a Swiss citizen who used to be UBS's third-highest ranked executive, was arrested by Italian police on October 19 while on a private visit with his wife to Bologna, Italy, and is facing possible extradition to the United States.

The 53-year-old banker was charged five years ago in the United States with conspiring with unnamed UBS executives to help 17,000 Americans conceal $20 billion in Swiss bank accounts. He was declared a fugitive a few months later.

He disputes the charges, for which he faces up to five years in jail in the United States.

In a landmark 2009 settlement that marked a break with Switzerland's traditional bank secrecy, UBS, the world's largest wealth manager by assets, was fined $780 million and agreed to hand over the names of some U.S. clients with secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid facing criminal charges.

Weil, who at the time was in charge of UBS' banking services to the world's wealthy, has spent 36 days in Bologna's notoriously overcrowded Dozza jail, where inmates awaiting trial share 10-square-metre cells.

A July report by Bologna authorities said more than 900 prisoners were being held at the crumbling prison, which has a maximum capacity of 497.

At a closed-door hearing on Friday, Weil's lawyers had asked the Bologna court to place Weil under house arrest, with electronic tagging, a source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.   Continued...

A Swiss national flag (top) and a flag of the city of Basel fly over the entrance of a branch office of Swiss bank UBS in Basel October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann