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Sunday, February 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Swiss Banks Owe $130M for Helping Tax Evaders

(CN) - Three Swiss banks dodged criminal prosecution for helping U.S. citizens to evade taxes through offshore bank accounts by agreeing to close the accounts and disclose cross-border activities, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Credit Agricole Suisse, Dreyfus Sons & Co. and Baumann & Cie resolved potential criminal liability actions through the Justice Department's Swiss Bank Program, which allows Swiss banks to duck tax-related criminal actions in connection with U.S. tax evaders who have stashed money in their banks.

In their nonprosecution agreements with the feds, the three banks agreed to cooperate in future criminal and civil proceedings against tax dodgers, put controls in place to stop evaders from depositing money with them and pay a collective penalty of over $130 million.

All Swiss banks that join the program also agree to report cross-border activities to the U.S. government, provide detailed information on U.S. accountholders, tattle on other banks that have transferred funds into secret accounts and close the tax evaders' accounts.

According to the Justice Department, Credit Agricole Suisse maintained 954 legal and illegal bank accounts since 2008, valued at over $1.8 billion. The bank agreed to pay $99.2 million in penalties.

Dreyfus & Sons held 855 U.S.-related accounts with a combined value of $1.76 billion, and will pay over $24 million in penalties.

Baumann maintained 167 U.S. accounts valued at $514 million and owes $7.7 million in penalties.

"The agreements signed today are further evidence that the Swiss Bank Program has effectively decimated the hidden offshore banking industry," Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation chief Richard Weber said. "Collectively, the magnitude of data provided by these banks increases the amount of information we know exponentially about individuals hiding their money and the countries that are facilitating it."

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