UBS Whistleblower Fails to Show in Court, Declared a Fugitive

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jan 10, 2019
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A former employee of Swiss bank UBS, who is accused of selling client data to German tax authorities, failed to show up in court and therefore is considered a fugitive, though prosecutors have still called for a four-year prison term, according to Bloomberg. The Basel native was charged by Swiss authorities with commercial espionage, violation of Swiss banking secrecy as well as money laundering and weapons charges. The Swiss citizen is thought to have given information on more than 200 clients to German officials in exchange for 1.15 million euros. The verdict had originally been expected to come on Jan. 21, but with the former banker identified only as "Rene S." missing, this will probably not happen. It is currently unknown just where he is and why he did not come to court. 

Releasing client information is a crime in Switzerland that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. Bloomberg said this law was used in 2015 to convict another former banker in a similar circumstance, Herve Falciani, who passed HSBC client information to French tax authorities. 

Other leakers, however, been vindicated, though sometimes only after years. For example, former PwC employee Antoine Deltour leaked tax planning information to the media, which the government of his native Luxembourg condemned. He was charged and eventually convicted by authorities there for his actions. However, after serving six months in prison, the country's highest court overturned the conviction last year, saying he should have had whistleblower protections. 

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