EXCLUSIVE-Ex-UBS banker sought in tax probe being extradited to U.S.
(Adds Weil due to appear in U.S. court on Monday)
By Valentina Accardo
BOLOGNA Italy Dec 13 (Reuters) - Raoul Weil, an ex-UBS banker charged by U.S. authorities for allegedly helping Americans dodge taxes via secret Swiss bank accounts, was being extradited to the United States from Italy to face a trial likely to reignite a global debate on tax fraud.
Weil, a 54-year-old Swiss citizen who was once the third-highest ranked executive at Zurich-based wealth manager UBS, was arrested mid-October while holidaying with his wife at an upscale hotel in the Italian northern city of Bologna.
One of his lawyers and a judicial official told Reuters Weil had left Dozza prison in Bologna early on Friday and was being extradited to the United States. The judicial source said Weil was already on a flight en route to America.
Court records from the U.S. District Court in Florida showed Weil is due to appear at a hearing in Fort Lauderdale at 1100 EST on Dec. 16. He faces up to five years in jail for allegedly conspiring to defraud the United States.
Weil's lawyer in the United States, Aaron Marcu of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, declined to comment. A spokeswoman from the U.S. Justice Department had no immediate comment.
U.S. authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Weil in early 2009, just months after he was charged for allegedly conspiring to help 17,000 American clients of UBS avoid taxes. Weil denies any wrongdoing.
Weil's indictment in November 2008 was a landmark in efforts by U.S. authorities to clamp down on the alleged use of offshore Swiss bank accounts by tax dodgers.
In early 2009, UBS, the world's biggest wealth manager, agreed to pay a fine of $780 million euros to settle a tax fraud dispute with the United States. The deal also involved UBS passing on thousands of client names to U.S. authorities, a breach of Switzerland's treasured bank secrecy traditions. (Additional reporting by Howard Goller and David Ingram; Editing by Lisa Jucca and David Holmes)