Senate Accuses Swiss Bank of Helping Americans Evade Taxes

A Senate report into Credit Suisse says it was "deeply involved in facilitating U.S. tax evasion"

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Switzerland’s second largest bank, Credit Suisse, has been accused of helping U.S. customers evade billions of dollars in taxes.

A Senate report released on Tuesday details how Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse, allegedly used cloak-and-dagger practices to aid and abet tax evasion by their U.S. customers. The report follows a two-year investigation by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

According to the report, more than 22,000 U.S. customers held accounts with the Swiss bank, with assets totaling $13.5 billion (12 billion Swiss Francs) at their peak. The vast majority of that money was hidden from U.S. authorities, say the authors. The investigation also claimed U.S. law enforcement officials were slow to collect the unpaid taxes or hold tax evaders accountable and said Swiss government banking secrecy restrictions enabled the vast majority of U.S. clients to remain hidden.

“The Credit Suisse case study shows how a Swiss bank aided and abetted U.S. tax evasion, not only from behind a veil of secrecy in Switzerland, but also on U.S. soil by sending Swiss bankers here to open hidden accounts,” said Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., the subcommittee chairman, in a statement. “The battle against tax havens using secrecy laws to facilitate U.S. tax evasion has bogged down, causing a huge loss to our treasury.”

The report was released ahead of a planned subcommittee hearing on Wednesday in which Senators are expected to question Credit Suisse chief Brady Dougan and other top bank officials.