Former UBS banker Raoul Weil, accompanied by his wife Susan Lerch Weil, arrives at federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Former UBS banker Raoul Weil, accompanied by his wife Susan Lerch Weil, arrives at federal court in Fort Lauderdale, FloridaReuters

Raoul Weil, former head of global wealth management at UBS AG, has been found not guilty in a tax cheating case in the US.

At a trial in South Florida federal court on 3 November, Weil was cleared of conspiracy to defraud the US Internal Revenue Service. He was accused of conspiring to help wealthy Americans to hide $20bn (£12.5bn, €16bn) in assets in secret offshore accounts.

The Swiss banker would have received up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

The three-week trial had an abrupt end as Weil's defence team decided not to call any witnesses, noting that the government had failed to make its case.

"The jury sent a strong message to the government. This case should never have been brought," Weil's lawyer, Matthew Menchel, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Weil had been arrested in October 2013 at an upscale hotel in Italy and was extradited to the US, as part of the country's crackdown on tax dodging by wealthy Americans with the help of secret offshore accounts.

In 2009, the US regulators fined UBS $780m for helping its citizens evade taxes. The bank also disclosed the names of thousands of Americans, who had offshore accounts with it.

This was the second loss for the US Justice Department in a tax evasion cases in a few days. On 31 October, a federal jury in Los Angeles acquitted Shokrollah Baravarian, a former senior vice-president at the local branch of Israel's Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, of similar charges.

UBS is facing investigation in France and Germany over its alleged assistance for wealthy individuals to dodge taxes.