Credit Suisse has violated US tax evasion deal, Senate Committee finds

LONDON: Credit Suisse violated a 2014 plea deal with U.S. authorities by continuing to help ultra-wealthy Americans evade taxes and concealing more than $700 million from the government, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee found on Wednesday.

After concluding a two-year investigation into Credit Suisse – which this month agreed to a rescue takeover by rival UBS – the committee said it had uncovered “major violations” of the 2014 agreement between the Swiss lender and the U.S. Department of Justice for enabling tax evasion.

These violations included failing to disclose nearly $100 million in secret offshore accounts belonging to a single family of U.S. taxpayers, which it said represented an “ongoing and potentially criminal conspiracy”.

In an emailed statement, Credit Suisse said it did not tolerate tax evasion and had been cooperating with U.S. 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 U.S. persons,” the bank said, referring to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden.

In a statement Wyden said: “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.”

Representatives for the U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Credit Suisse in 2014 became the largest bank in 20 years to plead guilty to a U.S. criminal charge, agreeing to pay a $2.5 billion fine to authorities for helping Americans evade taxes in a conspiracy that spanned decades.

It was one of a string of scandals that rocked Switzerland’s second-biggest lender and contributed to it being forced into the arms of UBS.

Last year it pled guilty to defrauding investors over an $850 million loan to Mozambique meant to pay for a tuna fishing fleet, and in June the bank was convicted by Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court of failing to prevent money-laundering by a Bulgarian cocaine trafficking gang.

Swiss authorities engineered the rescue of Credit Suisse earlier this month as they scrambled to prevent the lender from collapsing. UBS on Wednesday rehired Sergio Ermotti as CEO to steer its takeover of CS and reassure the world’s wealthy that UBS remains a safe harbour for their cash.

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