• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss bank 'used golf' to lure US tax cheats

AFP · 26 Feb 2014, 08:07

Published: 26 Feb 2014 08:07 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The report contains the results of a two-year Senate investigation and comes a day before the heavily-anticipated questioning of Credit Suisse chief Brady Dougan and other top bank officials before the panel.

Bank figures suggest there were "nearly 19,000 US customers with hidden Swiss assets totaling nearly $5 billion" as of 2006, the Senate report said.

That figure represents some 85 percent of the bank's more than 22,000 US customers in 2006 with Swiss accounts whose assets, at their highest, exceeded $13.5 billion, the report said.

Among the bank's cloak-and-dagger practices, Swiss bankers were sent to the United States to secretly find clients, leaving no paper trail, at events sponsored by the bank -- such as at golf tournaments in Florida.

The bank also helped its clients find "intermediaries" who could help them create offshore shell companies to hide the money trail from the Internal Revenue Service.

"One former customer described how, on one occasion, a Credit Suisse banker traveled to the United States to meet with the customer at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and, over breakfast, handed the customer the bank statements hidden in a Sports Illustrated magazine," wrote the investigators.

Third-party companies were also engaged by the bank to provide credit cards permitting clients to secretly use their hidden funds.

"The battle against tax havens using secrecy laws to facilitate US tax evasion has bogged down, causing a huge loss to our treasury" said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that led the investigation.

By 2008, the report says, there were more than 1,800 Credit Suisse bankers employed to manage US client accounts, many of which were never declared to the IRS, and whose transactions were structured to avoid US tax reporting requirements.

From 2008 to 2011, after the break of a tax evasion scandal at fellow Swiss bank UBS, Credit Suisse starting putting an end to its evasive practices, asking clients to close their accounts or declare them.

Story continues below…

"The Department of Justice has failed to use the US legal tools that won the UBS case," Levin said.

"It's time to ramp up the collection of taxes due from tax evaders on the billions of dollars hidden offshore," he added.

In total, by the end of 2013, the number of Swiss accounts held by US clients at Credit Suisse fell by 85 percent, or the 19,000 clients believed to have had hidden assets, the report said.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available