Swiss banking firm Credit Suisse this week pleaded guilty to U.S. tax evasion charges. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Credit Suisse is the largest bank to plead guilty to such charges in over two decades.
The case surrounds a years-long investigation by the U.S. government into a conspiracy to aid U.S. taxpayers in avoiding taxes. The charges allege that Credit Suisse and its subsidiaries "actively" participated in helping account holders deceive the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through the use of undeclared bank accounts. The bank used offshore accounts under false business names to shield its customers' funds from the U.S.
The Justice Department's investigation revealed that Credit Suisse's involvement in the conspiracy spanned decades and involved hundreds of the bank's employees. At least one Credit Suisse subsidiary is alleged to have been helping Americans evade tax payments for over 100 years. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that Credit Suisse destroyed bank records, concealed bank transactions, flouted banking disclosure requirements, and destroyed documents sought by the Justice Department as part of its investigation.
Credit Suisse will pay more than $2.6 billion to U.S agencies as part of the plea agreement. $1.3 billion will be paid to the U.S. as a fine, $670 million will be paid as restitution to the IRS, $100 million will be paid to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and $715 million will be paid to the New York State Department of Financial Services.
The Justice Department characterized the guilty plea as an example that the department is not influenced by big business.
"This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law," said Holder. "When the Department of Justice conducts investigations, we will always follow the law and the facts wherever they lead. We will never hesitate to criminally sanction any company or individual that breaks the law. A company’s profitability or market share can never and will never be used as a shield from prosecution or penalty. And this action should put that misguided notion definitively to rest."
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