ZURICH Nov 12 Switzerland's prosecutor said it
is investigating former UBS banker Renzo Gadola, who
received a light sentencing in the U.S. two years ago in return
for becoming a informant on wealthy American tax cheats.
The investigation centers on industrial espionage, according
to Swiss media, and it raises the spectre of more Swiss bankers
who have cooperated with foreign officials being pursued by
prosecutors for violating the country's strict banking secrecy
"The investigation is underway. Because it is confidential,
we cannot give any information on the nature, status or progress
of our investigation," a spokeswoman for Switzerland's
prosecutor said in an email to Reuters on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Swiss weekly business paper
Handelszeitung reported that Zurich's prosecutor had referred an
investigation involving Gadola, who worked at UBS from 1995 to
2008, and alleged industrial espionage to federal prosecutors.
Gadola, who was not immediately available for comment, would
be the first Swiss banker to be pursued in Switzerland on
charges of industrial espionage for the United States over the
tax spat, although Swiss authorities have charged other bankers
for passing on confidential files to Germany.
Almost immediately after his arrest in 2010, Gadola started
cooperating with U.S. officials, providing insight into other
bankers and Swiss financial institutions offering offshore
banking services, according to prosecutors at the time of his
sentencing in 2011.
He turned over fellow bankers' names and participated in
recorded conversations with clients, according to a document
released in the run up to his sentencing.
That cooperation entailed disclosing to U.S. prosecutors for
the first time the role of Swiss cantonal banks, including
Basler Kantonalbank, in helping Americans to evade U.S.
taxes on at least hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
Gadola, who continued to cooperate as a condition of his
probation, was in 2011 sentenced to five months' probation from
a Florida federal judge and a fine of $100.
Two years on, Swiss banks are moving towards ending a
long-running dispute with U.S. officials over aiding tax evasion
through a deal to allow some Swiss banks to pay fines to avoid
or defer prosecution.
UBS ended its dispute with U.S. authorities in 2009 by
paying $780 million and handing over thousands of files on
wealthy American clients. This, combined with an amnesty program
aimed at luring U.S. taxpayers to come clean on hidden finds,
has spawned an investigation into a second wave of Swiss banks.
Last month, former UBS private banking head Raoul Weil was
arrested in Italy on an outstanding U.S. warrant. Weil, who
remains in custody in Bologna jail, is expected to be extradited
to the U.S. to stand trial on charges of helping Americans dodge