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December 18, 2013

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First Swiss Bank Enrolls in US Tax Evasion Program

In a motion of compliance, Valiant Bank has become the first Swiss lender to confirm its enrollment in a US program intended to put a stop to the country’s banking secrecy. The US has relentlessly pursued Swiss lenders since forcing UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, to pay a $780m fine for assisting American tax evaders in 2009.

According to the program, the 300 Swiss banks that have yet to submit have until the end of the year to decide whether or not they will co-operate with the US or hope that they slide under the radar. The program organizes the lenders into three groups. The categories vary according to whether or not the banks believe they have breached US law.

For example, a “category two” bank is a lender that believes they have breached US law and will most likely pay fines in accordance with their activities. In exchange for honesty, they will be able to seek non-prosecution agreements from the US.

Valiant claims that while it “never actively” attempted to win US clients, it will opt for category two, as it would provide more protection for its clients in the future. Due to less than .1 percent of its 400,000 clients being US citizens, the bank isn’t worried about the cost of participating in the program.

Offshore Accounts/International Tax Disputes