CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Florida judge grants $10.5 million bail for former UBS banker

Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:51pm EST

(Inserts dropped "million" in fourth paragraph)

By Zachary Fagenson

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Dec 16 (Reuters) - Raoul Weil, a former high-ranking UBS banker charged with tax fraud by U.S. authorities, was freed on bail of $10.5 million on 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 appeared in shackles in federal court in Fort Lauderdale three days after he was extradited from Italy. He did not enter a plea and his arraignment was postponed until January 7.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt agreed to let Weil stay with friends in New Jersey after putting up the bond, which included $9 million in a personal surety by Weil, $500,000 from the New Jersey family and the other $1 million a corporate surety bond signed with a bail bondsman.

Weil, the ex-head of wealth management at UBS, was arrested in mid-October on vacation with his wife at an upscale hotel in the northern Italian city of Bologna. He was extradited to the United States late last week after an Italian judge rejected a request for house arrest.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The judge ordered Weil be placed on a GPS monitoring system and surrender his passport.

Weil's attorney told the court that his client had assets of $11.2 million, all held offshore, mostly in cash and securities.

His trial could help the United States and other Western countries step up their hunt for individuals and companies that use opaque offshore financial centers to avoid paying taxes.

Five years ago the United States charged Weil and other unnamed executives from UBS with helping more than 17,000 Americans conceal $20 billion in secret Swiss bank accounts. Weil disputed the charges and was declared a fugitive a few months later.

He left UBS after being indicted, and joined a small Swiss bank, Reuss Private Group.

In a landmark 2009 settlement 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. (Writing by David Adams; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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