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Ex-UBS banker loses appeal over selling client data to Germany

By Reuters

ZURICH – Switzerland’s highest court has dismissed an appeal by a former UBS banker convicted in absentia of espionage for selling information about wealthy clients to German tax authorities.

Rene S., as the 48-year-old ex-banker was called during court proceedings, was sentenced to 40 months in prison plus fines and court costs worth more than 125,000 Swiss francs ($125,200) when a lower court found him guilty in 2019 of spying and money laundering.

An appeals court in 2020 upheld the verdict, as did the Swiss Federal Court in a ruling released on Thursday. It dismissed his argument that the lower court had conducted proceedings in an inadmissible manner.

Court documents have said the man, accused of making more than 1.1 million euros ($1.14 million) from the sale, had moved to a small town in Germany just across the Rhine River from Switzerland.

He did not attend court proceedings and his lawyer did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The case was part of a decade-old dispute between Germany and Switzerland over untaxed assets, now a legacy issue after both countries have joined more than 100 others in agreeing to exchange financial data about residents’ accounts.

Switzerland, whose banks have paid out billions to settle charges they helped foreigners hide wealth, has aggressively prosecuted whistleblowers who leak client data.

($1 = 0.9984 Swiss francs)

($1 = 0.9608 euros)