The biggest Swiss bank Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to helping U.S. citizens evade paying taxes to the U.S. Government and agreed to pay a $2.6bn fine. U.S. prosecutors criminally charged Credit Suisse and two of its units, stating that the bank helped clients deceive U.S. tax authorities by concealing assets in illegal, undeclared bank accounts, in a conspiracy that spanned decades. The bank said the settlement would reduce its second-quarter net profit by 1.6bn Swiss Francs ($1.8bn).
Fines and banking licences
The $2.6bn payment is the highest in a U.S. criminal tax investigation to date, according to U.S. authorities. However, as part of the agreement with U.S. regulators, the bank will not lose its banking licence in the US. The bank does not expect its UK and Swiss banking licences to be affected. Credit Suisse chief executive Brady Dougan said: ‘We deeply regret the past misconduct that led to this settlement. Having this matter fully resolved is an important step forward for us’. Credit Suisse will meet most of the cost of the fine by selling some of its risky assets, the bank’s chief financial officer David Mathers said.
To be continued
Credit Suisse is not alone. U.S. prosecutors are chasing more than a dozen other Swiss banks for allegedly helping wealthy Americans dodge U.S. taxes, and at the press conference, they hinted that there would be more settlements to come.