The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday published the results of a two-year investigation showing that the scandal-plagued Swiss bank Credit Suisse has been complicit in a “massive, ongoing conspiracy” to help wealthy U.S. citizens dodge taxes.
Spearheaded by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair of the Senate panel, the probe found that Credit Suisse violated the terms of a 2014 plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that required the bank to crack down on tax dodging by its U.S. clients.
As part of the 2014 deal, according to the Justice Department, Credit Suisse admitted to “knowingly and willfully” helping U.S. clients hide offshore assets and income from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The Senate Finance Committee report states that it obtained “voluminous records detailing the role Credit Suisse employees played in assisting U.S. businessman Dan Horsky in concealing over $220 million in offshore accounts from the IRS.”
“The committee’s investigation also uncovered almost two dozen additional large, potentially undeclared accounts held by Credit Suisse belonging to ultra-high net worth U.S. persons,” the report continued. “In 2022, Credit Suisse disclosed to the committee that in connection with its ongoing cooperation with DOJ, it had identified 10 additional large client relationships involving U.S. persons, with each client holding accounts in excess of $20 million.”
Wyden said in a statement Wednesday that “at the center of this investigation are greedy Swiss bankers and catnapping government regulators, and the result appears to be a massive, ongoing conspiracy to help ultrawealthy U.S. citizens to evade taxes and rip off their fellow Americans.”
“Credit Suisse got a discount on the penalty it faced in 2014 for enabling tax evasion because bank executives swore up and down they’d get out of the business of defrauding the United States,” the Oregon senator continued. “This investigation shows Credit Suisse did not make good on that promise.”
“Republican budget cuts have decimated the IRS’s ability to root out this kind of offshore tax evasion scheme, but Democrats are committed to stepping up enforcement against wealthy tax cheats.”
The report was published days after the Switzerland-based investment banking giant UBS agreed to purchase Credit Suisse for more than $3 billion as the latter firm faced growing questions about its financial health amid fears of a broader banking crisis.
Wyden said Wednesday that Credit Suisse’s “pending acquisition does not wipe the slate clean,” urging the U.S. Justice Department to follow through on its pledge to “crack down on corporate offenders, particularly repeat offenders like Credit Suisse.”
“In addition to a significant penalty for the bank, the individual bankers involved in these schemes must also face criminal investigation,” Wyden added. “It simply makes no sense to allow the bankers who have their hands on these hidden accounts and enable tax evasion to get away scot-free. Finally, the cases detailed in this investigation are textbook examples of why Democrats gave the IRS new funding for enforcement. Republican budget cuts have decimated the IRS’s ability to root out this kind of offshore tax evasion scheme, but Democrats are committed to stepping up enforcement against wealthy tax cheats.”
In total, the Senate Finance Committee said it found evidence that Credit Suisse helped potentially more than two dozen American families hide upwards of $700 million at the bank after the 2014 plea agreement with the Justice Department.
Citing two former Credit Suisse employees, CNBC reported Wednesday that “although the bank did disclose and close many American accounts after its 2014 plea agreement, some bankers worked with high net worth clients to keep certain Americans at the bank, by changing the nationalities listed on their accounts and ignoring evidence that the account holders were Americans.”
“In other cases, they helped American clients move money to other banks, without reporting those transfers to U.S. authorities,” the outlet added.