U.S. Charges 3 Swiss Bankers in Tax Evasion Case

U.S. prosecutors charged three Swiss bankers on Tuesday of conspiring with wealthy U.S. taxpayers to hide more than $1.2 billion in assets from tax authorities.

The office of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney said in a statement that the indictment charges the bankers with trying to "capture business lost by UBS AG and another large international Swiss bank in the wake of widespread news reports that the Internal Revenue Service was investigating UBS" in 2008 and 2009.

In recent years, federal prosecutors and tax authorities have cracked down on tax evasion by the wealthy.

Neither the international Swiss bank nor the other purported co-conspirators were identified by prosecutors.

The three bankers worked as client advisers at a Zurich bank branch and hid certain Swiss bank accounts and the income they generated, prosecutors said. They did not identify the bank branch.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in New York identified the three bankers as Michael Berlinka, Urs Frei and Roger Keller. It said they all live in Switzerland. Their attorneys were not immediately known.

If convicted, the bankers face a maximum prison term of five years under the conspiracy charge.

(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Bernard Orr)