Swiss banks that seek to avoid prosecution for fostering tax evasion through secret accounts held by U.S. clients face penalties of as much as 50% of the value of those assets, the U.S. government said.
Bloomberg News reports that hundreds of Swiss banks could be covered by a U.S.- Switzerland accord over how to punish financial institutions that used secret accounts to help American clients hide assets from U.S. tax authorities.
The U.S. said Friday it will continue criminal probes of 14 banks while allowing others to avoid prosecution by paying penalties and disclosing accounts.
'This program will significantly enhance the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to aggressively pursue those who attempt to evade the law', Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. 'The program’s requirement that Swiss banks provide detailed account information will improve our ability to bring tax dollars back to the U.S. Treasury'.
The accord lets Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore financial center with about $2.2 trillion of assets, resolve talks spanning two years after U.S. criminal prosecutions eroded Swiss bank secrecy. Those under investigation include Credit Suisse, HSBC and Julius Baer Group.
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