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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Former UBS Banker Charged with Helping U.S. Taxpayers Use Secret Swiss Bank Accounts to Evade U.S. Taxes

Investment Advisor Encouraged U.S. Taxpayers Not to Disclose Accounts to Internal Revenue Service

WASHINGTON – Martin Lack, a former UBS AG banker who is currently an independent asset manager, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.


According to the indictment, Lack, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, founded his own investment management firm, Lack & Partner Asset Management AG in Zurich in 2002.  According to the indictment, Lack assisted U.S. customers to open and maintain secret bank accounts at a Swiss cantonal bank headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, with the assistance of a private banker at the bank.  The indictment alleges that Lack traveled to the U.S. to conduct banking for U.S. customers with undeclared accounts and conducted currency transactions in the U.S. in violation of federal banking and currency reporting laws. 


According to the indictment, Lack encouraged his customers not to participate in the IRS voluntary disclosure program and he offered to provide his customers with falsified bank documents to conceal the source of the funds in their undeclared bank accounts.  The indictment further alleges that Lack gave a U.S. customer with an undeclared bank account a cell phone and instructed the customer to only contact him using the cell phone and not to use a U.S. land line.


The indictment further alleges that Lack feared that he would be arrested by U.S. law enforcement following the investigation of UBS AG, so, in November 2010, he sent his associate, Renzo Gadola, to meet with a client at a Miami hotel to persuade that client not to disclose to the U.S. that the client owned and controlled a bank account at a regional bank headquartered in Basel.  The undeclared bank account allegedly was funded when the client provided Lack with approximately $445,000 in cash during two meetings in New Orleans in 2007.   According to the indictment, at the Nov. 6, 2010, meeting in Miami, Gadola encouraged the customer not to disclose the undeclared cantonal bank account to U.S. authorities, telling the customer that there was a “99.9 percent chance the client had nothing to worry about because the “likelihood . . .that they will somehow. . . find out about the account is practically zero percent.” Lack also allegedly encouraged this client not to disclose the undeclared bank account at the cantonal bank to the U.S. authorities and offered to provide the client with falsified bank documents to make the funds in the account appear as though they were the proceeds of a loan.  On Dec. 22, 2010, Gadola pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States. He is scheduled to be sentenced before District Judge James King of the Southern District of Florida on Nov. 18, 2011.


Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division; and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office, commended the investigative efforts of the IRS agents involved in this case, as well as Senior Litigation Counsel Kevin M. Downing, Trial Attorney Mark F. Daly, Trial Attorney Michelle M. Petersen of the Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani, who are prosecuting the case.


A criminal indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.


More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at www.usdoj.gov/tax/. 

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014