November 14, 2014 / 2:16 AM / 5 years ago

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

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former vice president at Swiss private bank Rahn & Bodmer was indicted in the United States on charges of conspiring to help Americans 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 federal court in New York. 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, who lives in Switzerland, has not been arrested and has no known lawyer, according to U.S. prosecutors. He could not be reached for comment.

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

Rahn & Bodmer, which was established in 1750 and has 12 billion Swiss francs ($12.45 billion) under management, confirmed in September 2013 that it was under investigation.

“Since 2013, the bank has been cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS in connection with its investigation, and will continue to do so,” Rahn & Bodmer said in a statement on Friday.

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

Earlier this month, Raoul Weil, who once led UBS AG’s global wealth management unit, was acquitted on charges 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 manage 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.

“Mr. Paltzer continues to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office,” said Thomas Ostrander, a lawyer with the firm Duane Morris who represents Paltzer, without commenting on the substance of Thursday’s indictment.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York. Additional reporting by Katharina Bart in Zurich; Editing by Diane Craft, Leslie Adler and Elaine Hardcastle

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