November 13, 2014 / 11:40 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ex-banker at Switzerland's Rahn & Bodmer charged in U.S. for tax scheme

(Adds details on case, comments from prosecutor)

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - A former vice president at Swiss private bank Rahn & Bodmer was indicted on Thursday in the United States on charges of conspiring to help Americans to evade taxes by using secret accounts.

Martin Dunki, who retired from the bank in 2012, was charged with one count of conspiracy in an indictment filed in New York federal court.

The bank was not named in court papers, but was described as purporting to be the oldest private bank in Zurich, a description that Rahn & Bodmer uses on its website.

“Martin Dunki went to great lengths to help his U.S. taxpayer clients secret away millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Dunki, 66, lives in Switzerland, has not been arrested and has no known lawyer, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Camellia Plc, where Dunki is a non-executive director, did not reply to emails sent there seeking comment from the defendant.

Rahn & Bodmer, which was established in 1750 and manages 12 billion Swiss francs ($12.45 billion), had confirmed in September 2013 that it was under investigation. It did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday after normal business hours.

Dunki’s case is the latest to spill out of a broad crackdown by the United States of offshore tax evasion by Americans.

The indictment followed an acquittal earlier this month of Raoul Weil, who once led UBS AG’s global wealth management unit and was accused of conspiring to help Americans hide $20 billion in offshore accounts.

U.S. prosecutors said Dunki led a similar conspiracy at Rahn & Bodmer from 1995 to 2012, helping Americans hide hundreds of millions of dollars in undeclared accounts. One taxpayer hid nearly $300 million with Dunki’s help, prosecutors said.

Starting in 1999, Dunki, Zurich-based lawyer Edgar Paltzer and an unidentified lawyer in Santa Barbara, California, began working together to managing undeclared accounts at Rahn & Bodmer, prosecutors said.

Paltzer, a dual U.S.-Swiss citizen, pleaded guilty in August 2013 to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with U.S. authorities. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Diane Craft and David Gregorio)

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