Bloomberg -- The U.S. and Switzerland agreed to resolve a long-running dispute over offshore tax evasion by letting some banks voluntarily disclose wrongdoing and turn over account information on American clients, a senior Justice Department official familiar with the matter said.
The accord divides Swiss banks into four tiers: 14 banks under criminal investigation; those allowed to avoid prosecution by disclosing wrongdoing; those without wrongdoing to disclose; and those complying with U.S. anti-tax evasion law, according to the person, who isn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and asked not to be named. Total penalties by banks making voluntary disclosures could exceed $1 billion, the person said.
The pact lets Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore financial center with about $2.2 trillion of assets, resolve negotiations spanning two years after U.S. criminal prosecutions eroded Swiss bank secrecy. Those under investigation include Credit Suisse Group AG, the second-largest Swiss bank.
“The program enables all banks in Switzerland to settle their U.S. past quickly and conclusively and creates the necessary legal certainty,” the Swiss Bankers Association, which represents more than 300 banks, said yesterday after the Swiss government made an earlier announcement.
The accord will require banks making disclosures to describe fully how they enabled tax evasion, including third- party advisers and other professionals involved, the person said. They also must disclose information on an individual basis about U.S. clients with direct or indirect ownership of accounts, including their dollar values, the person said.
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