As published on finews.com, Thursday 19 August, 2021.
The deputy head of a family-controlled Swiss private bank was reportedly arrested on the Balearic island over U.S. tax allegations. His employer of 23 years, private bank Ihag, is seeking distance to the case.
Spain's national police arrested a Swiss banker on an international arrest warrant, according to online portal «Mallorcazeitung» (in German). The 60-year-old is sought by U.S. officials in connection with helping American tax dodgers hide more than $65 million in offshore accounts between 2004 and 2014, the outlet reported.
The banker in question is Peter Rueegg, a person familiar with the matter told finews.com. Rueegg is listed as the deputy CEO of Ihag on the Zurich-based private bank's website. A spokesman for Ihag confirmed that Rueegg cannot leave Spain due to a U.S. request for legal aid, and that he had been temporarily removed from his duties at the bank.
Founded in 1949, Ihag Privatbank recently embarked on a reinvention under new management. Rueegg (pictured below) was one of the few holdovers from the previous regime to survive. An Ihag spokesman said the proceedings are centered on Rueegg personally, and that the bank itself hadn't been contacted by U.S. officials nor was it aware of a pending investigation against it as a firm.
Rueegg reportedly stands accused of enabling three U.S. clients to stow their assets in order to evade tax. Prosecutors allege that Rueegg and accomplices earned major commissions for transferring funds first to a series of sham accounts in Hong Kong before making the funds available to the clients via accounts in Singapore controlled by Ihag.
Rueegg faces potential extradition to the U.S. and, if he is convicted of helping Americans with tax fraud, up to five years jail time. The Ihag spokesman said the other accused individuals no longer work for the Swiss bank.
«Mallorcazeitung» reported that Rueegg was rumbled by police at Palma de Mallorca's airport in a routine passport check, after an international warrant for him popped up during checks of Interpol's database. The warrant was issued in January, the outlet reported.
On Tuesday, Rueegg appeared via video conference before a Spanish judge who is due to decide whether he will be extradited to the U.S. He was then released pending the ruling.
Ihag, which is owned by Gratian Anda, a descendant of industrialist and arms manufacturer Emil Georg Buehrle, in 2015 entered a U.S. program to come clean on past tax offenses and avoid prosecution, paying $7.5 million. Two years later, a Swiss whistleblower alleged that Ihag hadn't been forthcoming in doing so, as finews.com reported.