Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - Page 13 News List

Two more banks in Switzerland to pay US to avoid charges

Reuters, WASHINGTON

Bank Linth LLB AG and Bank Sparhafen Zurich AG are to pay penalties to the US in deals to avoid criminal charges for helping US taxpayers avoid taxes, joining nearly a dozen other Swiss banks that have done the same.

Bank Linth is to pay US$4.15 million and BSZ is to pay US$1.81 million, the US Department of Justice said on Friday.

Eleven other Swiss banks have cut similar deals with the Department of Justice under a voluntary program set up in 2013, through which eligible Swiss banks could report suspected tax evasion in US-related accounts.

Swiss banks have come under heavy US pressure in recent years to crack down on tax evasion by US taxpayers.

Bank Linth had 126 US-related accounts worth US$102 million in assets and BSZ retained 91 such accounts holding more than US$25 million, prosecutors said.

Bank Linth said in a statement it had already set aside money and that the settlement meant it could now “close the books” on the issue.

BSZ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In total, about 100 eligible Swiss banks signed up to the Department of Justice’s program and the US hopes to conclude settlements with them over the coming months.

Many banks that had already settled with the US knowingly signed up clients fleeing other major Swiss banks in 2008, such as UBS AG, which were being investigated for helping US taxpayers conceal their assets and income.

In 2009, UBS agreed to pay US$780 million and last year Credit Suisse Group AG pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and was fined US$2.5 billion.

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