November 14, 2008 / 6:42 PM / in 9 years

UBS banker led a secretive "Canada Desk": paper

TORONTO (Reuters) - A UBS banker who faces charges of helping rich Americans evade U.S. taxes has been accused of supervising a secretive unit that may have illegally encouraged Canadians to move their money to Switzerland, a newspaper reported on Friday.

<p>Birds sit on wires in front of the logo of Swiss bank UBS at the Paradeplatz square in Zurich October 16, 2008. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>

A team of UBS bankers, known internally as the Canada Desk and operating independently of the firm’s licensed Canadian subsidiary, frequently visited the country to offer investment advice to clients, the Globe and Mail reported.

The unit may have funneled C$5.6 billion offshore, the paper said, citing internal UBS records obtained through the U.S. investigation.

Raoul Weil, the former global head of wealth management at UBS who was charged this week, also oversaw the Canadian operation, according to UBS records and interviews with former UBS officials, the paper said.

The Canada Desk bankers were not part of the legitimate UBS subsidiary that has offices in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, the Globe and Mail said.

Canadian law bars bankers who do not work for a licensed subsidiary from doing business in the country, the newspaper said. The rule is designed to prevent foreign bankers from skirting domestic regulations.

Despite Weil’s arrest, the operation has received little scrutiny from Canadian authorities, the Globe and Mail said.

Officials at UBS in Toronto were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Frank McGurty

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