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Take the Money and Run: Fed Authorities Go After Swiss Bankers who Conspired to Hide $1.2 Billion from IRS

"...this indictment represents additional pressure [on] …all of the 11 banks, to fully cooperate with the United States, and they surely will."

The Federal government, which hates being denied tax revenues, is going after three Swiss bankers for conspiring to hide almost $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal authorities said the bankers worked as client advisers at the Zurich branch of a bank they identified only as "Swiss Bank A." They said the men conspired with U.S. taxpayers and others to hide the existence of Swiss bank accounts and the income they generated from the IRS.

Federal authorities claim the men engaged in the conspiracy in 2008 and 2009 following reports that the IRS was investigating UBS AG and another large international Swiss bank for helping U.S. taxpayers evade taxes, according to Reuters.

Swiss banks, which have a longstanding practice of offering clients secrecy, have come under steady attack by U.S. authorities, highlighted by the probe into banking giant UBS which led to a deal between U.S. and Swiss authorities, reports Agence France Presse.

Reuters reports:

U.S. authorities, who suspect that tens of thousands of Americans have been using Swiss banks to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes, are investigating scores of Swiss banks and international banks with Swiss operations.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting criminal probes of 11 banks, either Swiss or global with major Swiss operations.

The investigations, an outgrowth of scrutiny of UBS, are focused on Credit Suisse AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and Basler Kantonalbank, among others…

Swiss authorities are interested in settling the case and getting back to work. They want a global civil settlement with U.S. authorities in which the entire Swiss banking industry would pay a fine and close out their undisclosed private banking services for Americans.

That settlement would be handled by the IRS.

Robert Katzberg, a criminal defense lawyer in New York with U.S. clients of Swiss banks, said that "this indictment represents additional pressure [on] …all of the 11 banks, to fully cooperate with the United States, and they surely will."

If convicted, the three bankers face a maximum prison term of five years under the conspiracy charge.

“The tax-hungry federal government doesn't seem daunted by the Swiss banking shell game, and the more success it has in tracking these accounts down, the tougher it will get for those who want to dodge taxes by stashing their money away in secrets,” writes Phil Villarreal of The Consumerist

One last thing…
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