U.S. Offering Free JFK-MIA Flights To Swiss Bankers It Would Like To Have A Word With

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A Swiss banker has won a Florida vacation for (allegedly) helping some dual U.S.-Russian citizens skirt taxes in both countries.

A Swiss employee of a U.K. private bank was arrested upon arrival in New York, a person familiar with the situation said.

The unidentified man, who works at the Geneva branch of London-based Bank Coutts, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, was arrested roughly 10 days ago and moved to Florida, the person said. The reasons for his move to Florida are unclear.

Switzerland's Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it was aware of the "temporary arrest" of a Swiss citizen in New York and was providing him with consular support. It provided no further comment….

William Sharp, a U.S. tax lawyer with Sharp Kemm, which has offices in Florida and Switzerland, said there is a substantial number of U.S.-Russian dual citizens who bank in Switzerland. Mr. Sharp is not involved in this case.

"Most have resisted applying to enter the IRS's limited-amnesty compliance program because they fear the ramifications in Russia," Mr. Sharp said. He added there is a tax treaty between the U.S. and Russia allowing for information exchange about taxes.

According to Swiss media reports, the man was transferred to Miami and fitted with an electronic surveillance bracelet. The reports did not make it clear whether he remains in custody.

Nice as it might be, however, unidentified Swiss banker's colleagues are not especially interested in an extended sojourn in Miami.

Last year, many Swiss bankers told Reuters they were changing their holiday plans to avoid the risk of arrest or extradition.

Tax lawyer Douglas Hornung said lower-ranking bank employees may also need to be wary of travelling to the United States….

The arrest is seen by some in Switzerland as the United States applying pressure to the Swiss government as they grapple to end a dispute over Swiss banks accused of helping wealthy Americans evade billions of dollars in taxes.

"It seems the United States are using intimidation methods to show that they aren't bluffing," said Jean-Christophe Schwaab, President of the French-speaking branch of The Association of Swiss Bank Employees (SBPV).

"For people in senior positions, we still advise not to travel to the United States. The situation obliges us to remain prudent," he said.

Swiss Banker Arrested in New York [WSJ]
U.S. officials arrest Swiss banker: sources [Reuters]

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