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.
With the recent global crackdown on tax evasion in full swing, Standard Chartered PLC is seeking a buyer for its Swiss private bank put on the block by Italian insurance giant Assicrazioni Generali SpA.
Switzerland's finance minister told a Swiss newspaper that the country planned to adopt a much more friendly position in regards to sharing bank client data with foreign tax authorities much more quickly than originally thought and cannot hold back until all other countries have introduced the practice.
More than 100 Swiss banks and other financial institutions are expected to seek non-prosecution agreements and provide U.S. authorities with information regarding clients suspected of offshore tax evasion. The announcement, given by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally, gave insight as to exactly how many Swiss banks are expected reveal how they assisted U.S. clients evade taxes, provide financial data about those clients, and pay any fines that may come as a result.
McDonald's came under fire on Tuesday after allegations from the French magazine L'Express claimed the food chain was under investigation by tax authorities for failing to pay taxes on 2.2 billion euros ($3 billion) of income from its 314 French locations.
Swiss banks are moving as quickly as possible to inspect account data with masses of lawyers and auditors at their sides in an attempt to meet a 31 December deadline set by the US Justice Department on an amnesty for institutions who admit to breaking America's tax laws. Under this program, Switzerland's banks who believe they may have violated US tax laws must reveal hidden American assets to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), hand over those accounts, and pay whatever penalties may follow. In exchange for their cooperation, the US Justice Department will drop all charges against the banks.
Since UBS agreed to a $780 million penalty by U.S. authorities, the United States has been attempting to convince other Swiss banks to voluntarily aid the American government in finding its tax evaders. By using UBS as an example, the help of an agreement with the Swiss government, and a disclosure program, it seems that the United States is well on its way into cracking the armor that is the legendary Swiss bank secrecy laws.
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.
Switzerland, known for its banking secrecy, ended that tradition on Tuesday by signing an international agreement to fight tax evasion.
Following a deal between the United States and several Swiss banks to pay fines rather than face a criminal investigation, Zurich bank Rahn & Bodmer has disclosed that they are currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Long known for being a tax haven for wealthy individuals, Swiss banks have been heavily targeted by American authorities over the past few years.