Swiss banker charged in US tax probe seeks bail before traveling

A Swiss banker charged in the United States last year with helping wealthy Americans avoid taxes said in a court filing on Tuesday that he wanted to fight the charges and asked a federal judge to consider his application for bail before he travelled to the United States.

Stefan Buck, who remains in Switzerland and was head of private banking at Zurich-based Bank Frey, asked for an unusual hearing in which a judge in New York would proceed with the bail application in his absence. In the filing, he said he sought a waiver that would allow him to return to Switzerland while the case is ongoing.

Buck's lawyer, who said he had been unable to reach an agreement with prosecutors on bail terms, cited a 2010 case from Florida in which a judge had granted another defendant a similar bail process.

A Swiss attorney who was charged alongside Buck, Edgar Paltzer, pleaded guilty last year and has been permitted to return to Switzerland and travel throughout Europe, according to the filing.

Bank Frey & Co shut down last year due to the major US investigation into whether Swiss banks helped Americans hide money offshore.

Buck's request comes two weeks after former top UBS AG banker Raoul Weil was acquitted of similar charges by a federal jury in South Florida.

Weil had been indicted in 2008, but faced trial in the US after being arrested last year while on vacation in Italy.