Facing billions of dollars in potential fines at the hands of U.S. authorities, Swiss banks are scrambling to convince their American clients to voluntarily disclose their accounts to the IRS.
Long known for its secrecy, Switzerland's banking industry has been turned upside down due to an ongoing U.S. onslaught against offshore tax evasion. In 2013, the Department of Justice announced a program to encourage Swiss banks to cooperate in its ongoing investigation of offshore tax evasion. Under the program, which was made available only to banks that were not already under criminal investigation, the banks would be required to disclose their cross-border banking activities and pay substantial penalties to the United States. Banks that meet all of the requirements are eligible for non-prosecution agreements.