U.S. seeks sentence cut for UBS client in tax case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is seeking a reduced sentence for a former client of UBS AG UBSN.VXUBS.N, who provided substantial information in a probe that found the Swiss bank helped Americans stash money overseas to evade taxes, according to a court filing on Friday.

Steven Rubinstein will be the first UBS client to be sentenced in the criminal cases being brought by government lawyers against scores of UBS clients and will face sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida next Wednesday.

Rubinstein pleaded guilty to failing to report a UBS account, and deserves a relatively mild sentence because he has “provided substantial assistance” in the UBS probe, the government said.

The U.S. alleged that the accountant, who had worked for a company helping clients buy and sell yachts, evaded taxes on $3 million by stashing funds in a British Virgin Islands corporation set up with a UBS account from 2001 to 2008.

The government is actively pursuing 150 criminal cases against UBS clients. To date, it has prosecuted seven former UBS customers.

The filing said Rubinstein’s cooperation led to probe of others embroiled in the tax evasion probe. His testimony was called “timely, significant, useful, truthful, complete and reliable.”

For those reasons, the government asked the court to impose a sentence at the lower end of the guideline range of 18 months to 24 months.

At the heart of the U.S. offshore tax effort is the government’s investigation of UBS AG. The giant Swiss bank earlier this year settled a criminal probe by paying $780 million and admitting it helped U.S. citizens evade taxes.

In August, the bank agreed to turn over 4,450 names of clients with undisclosed offshore accounts to end a related civil lawsuit.

Editing Bernard Orr