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Senate committee says bank 'complicit' in tax evasion by wealthy

A Senate investigation accused Credit Suisse of concealing dozens of accounts of Americans with more than $20 million in assets.
Senate committee says bank 'complicit' in tax evasion by wealthy
Posted at 11:13 AM, Mar 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 11:13:05-04

The Senate Finance Committee accused Credit Suisse of being complicit of helping wealthy Americans evade paying taxes. 

The findings were released Wednesday morning by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. It was part of the committee’s two-year probe on the bank’s compliance with a 2014 plea deal with the Department of Justice. 

The DOJ claimed Credit Suisse assisted clients in using sham entities to hide undeclared accounts. In the plea deal, Credit Suisse acknowledged for decades through 2009, it “operated an illegal cross-border banking business that knowingly and willfully aided and assisted thousands of U.S. clients in opening and maintaining undeclared accounts and concealing their offshore assets and income from the IRS.”

The 2014 plea deal involved the bank paying a $1.8 billion fine. It also involved Credit Suisse agreeing to disclose its cross-border activities and provide detailed information as to other banks that transferred funds into secret accounts or that accepted funds when secret accounts were closed and to close accounts of account holders who fail to come into compliance with U.S. reporting obligations.

In the findings released Wednesday, Wyden’s office said Credit Suisse concealed 23 accounts of Americans with assets of over $20 million. This was in addition to its alleged involvement in failing to disclose nearly $100 million in secret offshore accounts belonging to a single family of American taxpayers, Wyden’s office added.

SEE MORE: Credit Suisse, UBS shares plunge after takeover announcement

Credit Suisse was among the banks involved in the recent global financial crisis. Earlier this month, UBS announced its intention to acquire Credit Suisse to prevent the bank’s failure. 

“At the center of this investigation are greedy Swiss bankers and catnapping government regulators, and the result appears to be a massive, ongoing conspiracy to help ultra-wealthy U.S. citizens to evade taxes and rip off their fellow Americans,” Wyden said. “Credit Suisse got a discount on the penalty it faced in 2014 for enabling tax evasion because bank executives swore up and down they’d get out of the business of defrauding the United States. This investigation shows Credit Suisse did not make good on that promise, and the bank’s pending acquisition does not wipe the slate clean.”

In a statement, Credit Suisse told Scripps News it is cooperating with the investigators.

“Credit Suisse does not tolerate tax evasion,” a spokesperson said. “In its core, the report describes legacy issues, some from a decade ago, and we have implemented extensive enhancements since then to root out individuals who seek to conceal assets from tax authorities. Credit Suisse’s new leadership team has cooperated with the Committee’s inquiry and has supported the work of Senator Wyden, including in respect of suggested policy solutions to help strengthen the financial industry’s ability to detect undisclosed US persons. Our clear policy is to close undeclared accounts when identified, and to discipline any employee who fails to comply with bank policy or falls short of Credit Suisse’s standards of conduct.”