Raoul Weil, the former head of Swiss bank UBS's cross-border private banking operations, was declared a fugitive by a Fort Lauderdale judge as U.S. prosecutors upped the ante in their battle against Swiss bank accounts used to shelter assets from taxation.

Weil, UBS's former chairman of global wealth management, was charged last November with helping U.S. taxpayers hide approximately $20 billion in assets and evade about $300 million a year in federal income taxes (see UBS Exec Charged with Tax Evasion Conspiracy). The indictment accused him of overseeing a business that helped approximately 20,000 U.S. clients hide their assets from the Internal Revenue Service between 2002 and 2007.

U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn signed the court paper declaring the 49-year-old Weil a fugitive, writing, "The clerk of the court shall remove the defendant from the court's pending case list and shall place the defendant on the clerk's fugitive list." Weil's whereabouts are unknown, but he was formerly based in Zurich. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Another UBS banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, pled guilty to tax evasion conspiracy charges last June in connection with the scheme and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution.

UBS said last July that it would stop offering offshore banking to U.S. residents, and last Friday announced it was closing all the offshore accounts of its U.S. clients.

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