Five clients of Swiss bank UBS (UBS) received criminal indictments for tax evasion Thursday in what may ultimately become a dragnet of sorts for those caught up in the UBS overseas asset concealing scandal, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The UBS clients charged today were Kenneth Heller, Shmuel Sternfeld, Sybil Nancy Upham, Ernest Vogliano and Richard "Trygon" Werdiger. In addition to those five, two other UBS clients -- Federico Hernandez and Jules Robbins -- have reportedly agreed to waive their indictments and are expected to enter guilty pleas Thursday, according to the report. The Journal also noted that "a number" of UBS clients have agreed to enter guilty pleas relating to the case. Neither lawyers for Hernandez and Robbins nor the U.S. attorneys prosecuting their cases were immediately available for comment.
The indictments come on the same day that Bradley Birkenfeld, a former UBS banker and whistle-blower, was anticipated to seek clemency from President Obama. Birkenfeld was considered a key player in unveiling UBS' practices, which involved thousands of clients who channeled funds to overseas institutions to avoid taxes.
Federal authorities ultimately issued a $780 million fine against the Swiss bank and, as part of that settlement, the bank agreed to relinquish the names of nearly 4,500 customers allegedly involved in tax evasion.
For Uncle Sam, the indictments could not have come at a better time, as millions of Americans are busy getting their last-minute tax returns filed -- a gentle reminder of why people shouldn't try to cheat the IRS.
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