| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 9 A former Swiss banker who was
arrested last year in Germany on U.S. charges that he helped
wealthy Americans evade taxes is back in Switzerland after the
denial of a request to extradite him to the United States from
Germany, his lawyer said on Friday.
Roger Keller, a onetime client adviser in Zurich at Wegelin
& Co, was one of three bankers at the now-defunct Swiss private
bank charged in a 2012 indictment in New York federal court for
helping U.S. taxpayers hide more than $1.2 billion in assets.
He was arrested in Germany in February 2015 at the request
of the U.S. government, which sought his extradition, and served
seven months in jail before being granted bail, said Thomas
Green, Keller's U.S. lawyer at the law firm Sidley Austin.
By German court order, he was officially released on Friday
after the U.S. request to extradite him was denied, Green said,
though Keller had already been allowed to return to Switzerland
a "few days ago."
Representatives for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's
office, which had ben prosecuting the case, had no immediate
comment, nor did a spokesman for the general prosecutor's office
The case against Keller is one of several brought by the
U.S. Justice Department against Swiss bankers and their
employers stemming from a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion
by wealthy Americans utilizing undeclared Swiss bank accounts.
Wegelin, Switzerland's oldest private bank, was forced to
close after agreeing in 2013 to plead guilty to conspiracy to
evade taxes and pay $74 million.
Wegelin was indicted a month after prosecutors announced
charges against Keller and two other Wegelin bankers. All three
were from Switzerland, which the U.S. Justice Department has
said does not extradite its citizens in such cases.
The U.S. Justice Department in January announced the final
settlement in a program that resulted in 80 banks paying $1.36
billion to avoid prosecution. Some other banks also settled as
part of U.S. criminal cases.
Those included UBS, which reached $780 million deferred
prosecution deal in 2009; Credit Suisse, which as part of a plea
deal in 2014 agreed to pay $2.6 billion; and Julius Baer, which
in February agreed to pay $547 million in a deferred prosecution
The case is U.S. v. Berlinka et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 12-cr-00002.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; additional reporting by
Alexander Hübner in Frankfurt; Editing by David Gregorio)