Ex-UBS Client Werdiger Sentenced to One Year in Prison in Swiss Tax Case
By David Voreacos – Nov 10, 2011 8:36 AM ET
A diamond merchant and former UBS AG (UBSN) client who pleaded guilty to using a Swiss account to hide more than $7.1 million from U.S. tax authorities was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.
Richard Werdiger, 64, is one of 36 Americans charged since 2007 in a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion, and his was the longest prison term by a day. Werdiger, who pleaded guilty in March in federal court in New York, yesterday paid a civil penalty of $3.84 million and was fined $50,000.
“For over two decades, Richard Werdiger engaged in an elaborate subterfuge to avoid paying his fair share of taxes to the U.S. government,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “We will find tax cheats of all stripes and they will be punished.”
The U.S. crackdown has led to charges against UBS, the largest Swiss bank, as well as at least 21 other bankers, advisers and attorneys. The Justice Department has said eight offshore banks are under grand-jury investigation for facilitating tax evasion.
Because he was sentenced to one year and a day, instead of just one year, Werdiger will be eligible for earlier release for good behavior. Another UBS client, Federico Hernandez, was sentenced in September 2010 to one year in prison and six months of home confinement. He agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4.4 million.
Werdiger pleaded guilty to conspiracy and five counts of filing false tax returns.
From 1986 to 1988, Werdiger opened multiple UBS accounts using sham entities in Liechtenstein, prosecutors said. The bank also let him hide his identity by communicating with the code name “Trygon.” In 2000, he set up another UBS account in the name of a sham Panamanian corporation, prosecutors said.
His attorney, Ian Comisky, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment after yesterday’s court appearance.
UBS was unchanged at 10.89 Swiss francs at 2:28 p.m. in Zurich.
The case is U.S. v. Werdiger, 10-cr-325, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at firstname.lastname@example.org.