Raoul Weil, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Global Wealth Management & Business Banking, received good news last week when he was found not guilty of conspiracy to commit tax fraud. Those charges were connected to accusations that the company was involved in tax evasion by helping its clients hide billions of dollars in offshore accounts.
From the beginning of the case, Weil’s defense team had said that prosecutors did not have sufficient evidence to convict the Swiss banker of conspiracy to defraud the IRS. At trial, the government presented testimony of former colleagues of the banker, but Weil’s attorney pointed out that prosecutors’ case depended on the testimony of those who had a greater knowledge and role in illegal activity than Weil.
The case is a reminder of two things. First, federal prosecutors take compliance with tax law seriously, not that this is a big surprise. Second, prosecutors don’t always bring successful cases to trial from an evidential standpoint. As this case demonstrates, prosecutors are not always able to muster the evidence necessary to establish the charges they propose.
In criminal cases, of course, there must be sufficient evidence to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charges alleged. One of the major tasks of a defense attorney is to ensure that prosecutors don’t get their guilty verdict without meeting their burden of proof. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help to ensure that weak evidence is exposed as such and that other steps are taken to minimize the consequences of criminal charges.
Source: Reuters, “Former UBS executive found not guilty in Florida tax cheating trial,” Francisco Alvarado, Nov. 3, 2014.