Credit Suisse AG has pleaded guilty to helping wealthy Americans evade taxes in offshore havens, and the Swiss bank has agreed to pay U.S. authorities $2.6 billion in penalties, the Justice Department has announced.
Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference in Washington on Monday that the Swiss bank had “engaged in an extensive and wide-ranging conspiracy … to help tax cheats dodge U.S. taxes.”
Holder said the conspiracy spanned decades and involved bank employees destroying records in an effort to hide the truth and that the destruction of evidence continued after the Justice Department launched its investigation in 2010.
The Associated Press reports:
“The conspiracy charge was filed in a criminal information, which is a charging document that can only be filed with a defendant’s consent and which typically signals a guilty plea.
“The penalties will be paid to the Justice Department and to regulators, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the guilty plea had not yet been announced.”
A spokesmen for Credit Suisse and the New York State Department of Finance as well as a spokeswoman for the U.S. Federal Reserve all declined to comment, according to Reuters.
“The resolution of this matter was coordinated with its lead global regulators, and Credit Suisse expects no impact on its licenses, nor any material impact on its operational or business capabilities,” the bank said.
“We deeply regret the past misconduct that led to this settlement,” Credit Suisse Chief Executive Brady Dougan said in the statement.
Citing an unnamed source, The Wall Street Journal says that Credit Suisse’s Dougan and Chairman Urs Rohner will retain their jobs as part of the settlement.
Credit Suisse is not the first bank to make such a settlement. In 2009, UBS agreed to pay $780 million to U.S. authorities and to identify the names of its U.S. account holders. In 2013, Switzerland’s Wegelin & Co. paid $57.8 billion after pleading guilty to aiding tax evasion.
The prosecution of the Swiss banks is part of a U.S.-led international push that has been building for years. It takes advantage of the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, new bilateral tax treaties and global protocols.