Andreas Bachmann, former banker at Credit Suisse Group, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, March 10th, of helping Americans conceal their money in offshore Swiss accounts. Offering his services to dozens of Americans with Swiss bank accounts, Bachmann carried around large sums of cash on flights between the United States and Switzerland. Bachmann acted as a "personal ATM" for these Americans, often taking deposits of one client and using them to fund a withdrawal for a different client. Bachmann testified that it was all to help his customers avoid U.S. taxes, however, he agreed to cooperate fully with the U.S. government as they investigate the banks and their employees for aiding tax evasion.
Arrested on Tuesday, March 11th, Bachmann has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States. The maximum penalty is five years in prison, but prosecutors agreed to suggest a reduced sentence for Bachmann in return for full cooperation. Bachmann's bond has been set at $200,000 and he is restricted to only traveling in between Northern Virginia and Switzerland.
Bachmann's cooperation could potentiallly help the U.S. in its investigation and elimination of Swiss banks that assist U.S. citizens in tax evasion. Also, this plea agreement just adds to the ongoing probe of Credit Suisse, which has been under investigation since 2011. Bachmann and seven other bankers that were affiliated with Credit Suisse were charged by federal prosecutors with conspiring to set up offshore accounts for Americans that concealed up to $3 billion in assets. They faced charges of five years in prison and fines close to $250,000 but remained out of the United States until recently.
Bachmann was responsible for about 25 to 30 of the client accounts, many of which were undeclared to the Internal Service Revenue (IRS). He claimed that he helped his customers avoid U.S. taxes and helped teach them how to structure purchases so they wouldn't be reported to U.S. regulators. He even warned his customers of the risk of keeping these offshore accounts.
Credit Suisse signed an agreement in 2001 with the IRS in which it agreed that it was prohibited from holding U.S. investments and also agreed to withhold taxes from accounts held by Americans. However, the bankers ignored the compliance statement that they were not to talk about U.S. securities with their U.S. customers. Authorities have only been able to identify a small number of American customers wh have had the bank hde undeclared money due to strict Swiss bank secrecy laws.
Source: Grossman, Andrew, "Ex-Banker's Plea Deal Outlines Trial of a Tax-Evasion Scheme", The Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2014.