UBS have forced out a top executive who formerly handled secret offshore bank accounts for wealthy Americans. The news comes as US authorities and the Swiss bank continue to lock horns in a tax fraud investigation centering on rich US citizens with undeclared offshore bank accounts.
The man in question, Martin Liechti, was put on paid leave according to a UBS spokesman. It is understood that the two parties are negotiating an exit agreement that might be acceptable to both.
Its not the first time Liechti has been in the news. In May of last year he was taken in for questioning by US authorities as part of their investigation into alledged tax evasion by UBS’s US clients.The banker was detained for several months before being released and returning to his native Switzerland, a move which shocked many in the world of swiss offshore banking and beyond. Some Swiss private banks are now barring foreign travel for their top executives fearing similar arrests.
His removal will invite speculation as to how much information he gave the US authorities during his detention, and how much UBS are willing to give, as US pressure to break the legal stalement increases.
Liechti is not the only member of UBS top brass to leave the bank recently. The CEO, chairman and several private bankers have all resigned or been forced out in the past few months.