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US Government Continues to Pressure Swiss Banks

The US government is putting pressure on Switzerland to end its tradition of “banking secrecy”, as part of a global crackdown on tax evasion.

Since forcing UBS to pay a USD780 million fine in 2009 for helping US citizens evade taxes, the Department of Justice has been pursuing other Swiss banks that it believes committed similar offences.

Credit Suisse Group is currently in talks regarding a USD1.6 billion payment to resolve an investigation into the bank’s role in helping Americans evade US taxes.

A senior Swiss politician has called for Credit Suisse’s chief executive and chairman to step down, as political pressure mounts ahead of the expected settlement.

Switzerland is considering criminal charges against Credit Suisse, and a settlement in which Credit Suisse’s parent or subsidiary pleads guilty could be announced within weeks.

The bank announced on May 9 that its Americas head Antonio Quintella would leave the management board at the end of the month and move to Sao Paulo as chairman of its Hedging-Griffo unit, but did not say whether the move was linked to the ongoing US investigation.

US authorities have also delivered a blow to a Swiss firm that helped Americans use insurance products to hide money.

The Justice Department has reached a non-prosecution agreement with Zurich-based Swisspartners Group. The firm acknowledged helping American clients maintain undeclared bank accounts and will pay USD4.4 million in forfeitures and restitution.

Methods used by the firm included selling insurance policies that were funded by assets held in undeclared Swiss accounts. Those accounts were held in the name of the insurance firm, helping conceal the owners’ identities.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal marks the first publicly disclosed agreement between the Justice Department and a Swiss firm dealing in insurance products that were used by policyholders to conceal underlying assets from tax authorities.

Our law office, which represents many taxpayers with Swiss accounts.  Patel Law Offices is a law firm dedicated to helping clients resolve complicated tax, criminal tax, and international tax problems. Our firm assists (and defends) clients and their advisors to legally disclose (and legitimize) foreign accounts.