Mon, Jan 27, 2014 - Page 15 News List

106 Swiss entities request joining tax-dodging probe

Reuters, WASHINGTON

The US Department of Justice has received 106 requests from Swiss entities to participate in a US settlement program aimed at ending a long-running probe of tax-dodging by US citizens using Swiss bank accounts, a senior US government official said on Saturday.

Speaking at a legal conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Justice Department Tax Division Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally said that not all the entities might be banks and would thus not be eligible.

Under the US program the government of Switzerland signed in August last year, eligible Swiss banks will have to pay penalties and disclose account information about US customers to avoid or defer US prosecution.

The program is open only to banks not already under US criminal investigation.

According to the program, Swiss banks had until the end of last year to submit a letter of intent to the Justice Department to begin the settlement process. A number of Swiss banks already said publicly last year that they are participating in the program.

“We do not expect 106 non-prosecution agreements or deferred prosecution agreements,” Keneally said. “With those caveats we’re still pretty gratified by the response that we’ve gotten to the program.”

Under the program’s penalty provisions, a Swiss bank seeking nonprosecution must agree to a penalty equal to 20 percent of the total dollar amount of all hidden US customer accounts held by the bank on Aug. 1, 2008.

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