* Clients pulled some 4 bln Sfr of wealth in short time
* Ex-UBS CEO Gruebel: More US attacks on Swiss banks likely
* Gruebel: Solution to US tax row will likely be pricey
ZURICH, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The break-up of Switzerland’s oldest bank Wegelin, involved in a row with U.S. authorities over tax cheats, became necessary when clients pulled 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.35 billion) of wealth, Der Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday, citing unspecified sources.
Under pressure from the investigation, the 270-year-old institution moved assets of 21 billion Swiss francs ($22.9 billion) to a subsidiary Notenstein Privatbank, which was then bought by cooperative bank Raiffeisen.
Wegelin is still left with U.S. assets under scrutiny from U.S. prosecutors.
In his first interview since news of the sale broke on Friday, Wegelin head Konrad Hummler told the paper he had done the right thing at the right time.
“We became the victims of a larger matter. I don’t want to say more than that,” he said in a separate interview.
Citing unnamed sources, Der Sonntag said the purchase price for the bank’s good assets was somewhere between 2.5 and 3 percent of the 21 billion-franc total, putting the price tag somewhere around 500 and 600 million francs.
A raft of Swiss banks have come into the crosshairs of tax officials in the United States after UBS agreed in 2009 to hand over names of more than 4,000 of its account holders and pay a fine to settle charges it helped tax dodgers.
Among the banks under U.S. scrutiny are Credit Suisse and Julius Baer.
Berne has been lobbying for a year to get the investigations dropped in return for the payment of a hefty fine and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S. bank clients.
In another, separate, interview with Der Sonntag, former UBS CEO Oswald Gruebel said he feared U.S. authorities were likely only to tighten the noose around the Swiss financial sector.
“The end of the bank Wegelin is only the prelude to a big attack on the Swiss financial sector,” he told Der Sonntag. “A solution to the tax dispute will likely be very expensive for these banks.”