In a Bloomberg article credited to Jan-Henrik Foerster and Joost Akkermans “Credit Suisse Taken by Surprise in Five-Nation Tax Probe”, reminds us that it is a really good idea to report your Foreign Accounts. Here are some of the highlights of the article.
Credit Suisse Group AG and its home country of Switzerland were surprised by a tax evasion and money laundering investigation that spans five countries from Australia to the U.K. and potentially involves thousands of account holders.
Criminal investigations are also underway in France, Germany, the U.K. and Australia, and the roles of bank employees are part of the inquiries.
Credit Suisse fell 1.2 percent to 14.90 francs in Swiss trading, the second-worst performance in the Bloomberg Europe Banks Index. (Ouch!)
In a statement Friday from Zurich, Credit Suisse said it has “implemented Dutch and French voluntary tax disclosure programs and exited non-compliant clients,” and has applied a withholding tax agreement with the U.K. since 2013. (Wow!)
Credit Suisse was fined $2.6 billion in 2014 after admitting it helped Americans cheat on their tax obligations, and conducting what then-U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder called a “shamefully inadequate internal inquiry” into the wrongdoing. In Europe, Credit Suisse agreed in October to pay about 109.5 million euros ($117 million) to Italian authorities to resolve a probe into the bank’s use of insurance policies allegedly designed to help clients evade taxes, five years after paying 150 million euros to settle a tax evasion dispute with the German government.
The bank also agreed in December to pay a $2.48 billion civil penalty to resolve a U.S. investigation into its mortgage-backed business.
Credit Suisse isn’t alone. Eighty Swiss banks have entered into non-prosecution agreements with the Department of Justice in return for disclosing details on how tax evasion by their banking clients worked. UBS Group AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, turned over client names and paid $780 million in 2009 to settle its own dispute over tax evasion with the U.S. government.
“Taskforce agencies are working through their intelligence to determine the taxpayers in this group who have done the right thing, and those who have been concealing the true nature of their tax affairs,” Australia’s Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said in a statement.
“The message from these investigations makes it clear that governments worldwide are shining a light on offshore tax evasion, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re in the spotlight.”
In other words, you’ve been warned.