Former UBS banker Raoul Weil is seen in a booking photo after his arrival at the Broward Sheriff's Office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 13, 2013. A Florida judge ordered Raoul Weil, a former high-ranking UBS banker charged with tax fraud by U.S. authorities, freed on $9 million bond, in federal court Monday in Fort Lauderdale.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida judge ordered Raoul Weil, a former high-ranking UBS banker charged with tax fraud by U.S. authorities, freed on $9 million bond Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
Weil, a 54-year-old Swiss citizen, is charged with helping Americans dodge taxes via secret Swiss bank accounts.
Weil did not enter a plea and his arraignment was postponed until Jan 7.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt agreed to let Weil stay with friends in New Jersey after putting up the bond, including $4 million in cash.
Weil's lawyer has said that his client is looking forward to confronting the charges, which he denies.
The trial will offer a respite from the shared cell in the tough Italian jail where the ex-head of wealth management at UBS was held after his arrest in October on a visit from Switzerland.
It may also unmask more Americans hiding money from the tax authorities, cast a new spotlight on UBS and encourage other banks to hand over information to the United States and European countries also chasing tax avoiders.
In late 2008, Weil became the unwitting trump card in a U.S. drive against banks and countries it says shield tax cheats, accused by U.S. authorities of conspiring to help Americans hide $20 billion.
The following year, UBS paid a $780 million fine and agreed to hand over the names of U.S. clients with secret accounts, breaking Switzerland's tradition of banking secrecy to avoid feared criminal charges against the bank or other executives.
Weil's indictment was not dropped, much to his surprise and that of others at UBS.
The low key banker, fired by UBS when he was indicted, continued living in Switzerland. He joined a small private bank, Reuss Private Group, and then became its CEO.
In October he traveled to Italy and was arrested. He was extradited to the United States on Friday after spending weeks in an overcrowded jail in Bologna.
"Although Weil did not go to Italy in hopes of being arrested, he is now looking forward to coming to the United States and confronting the case against him," said U.S.-based Aaron R. Marcu of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
After his arrest, Weil told an Italian court he feared U.S. authorities could pressure him to reveal the names of more U.S. UBS clients, according to an official summary of the hearing seen by Reuters.
Weil, who could not be contacted for comment, could face up to five years in prison if convicted in the United States. His lawyer says he denies ever having helped anyone cheat on their taxes. "It's time for him to put this whole situation behind him," Marcu said.
Reuters' Lisa Jucca and Valentina Accardo contributed to this report.
First published December 16 2013, 10:53 AM