Swiss Bank Program Gets More Participants

Posted in Offshore Account Update on January 15, 2016 | Share

Offshore banks have long provided a haven for people in the United States to keep their money and enjoy privacy.  This is no longer the case and has not been for a long time as the Department of Justice has been aggressively going after banks that facilitate tax evasion.

Banks have been paying big penalties for their role in helping U.S.-affiliated accountholders, and banks have been turning over their customers and giving up their information.  Just recently, Courthouse News Service reported on three more Swiss banks who avoided criminal prosecution for themselves by paying $130 million in penalties and agreeing to help the Department of Justice.

These three banks, like others that participate in the Swiss Bank Program, must agree to cooperate with the DOJ, which means enough information is given that alleged tax evaders can be identified. Anyone with money offshore needs to be aware that banks are continuing to turn over private customer info to the DOJ. Offshore accountholders should consult with a Washington DC tax law firm about their options before it is too late to take advantage of amnesty programs themselves.


The three banks that are paying the $130 million in fines are Credit Agricole Suisse, Dreyfus Sons & Co. and Baumann & Cie.  All three are participating in the Swiss Bank Program, which is an amnesty program for offshore financial institutions who facilitated the evasion of U.S. tax obligations.  The Swiss Bank Program allows these banks to enter into non-prosecution agreements so they are safe from criminal charges.

Credit Agricole Suisse reportedly helped U.S.-affiliated individuals to maintain 954 legal and illegal bank accounts since 2008, with total valuations of the accounts at around $1.8 billion. This bank will pay $99.2 million of the $130 million the DOJ will collect.

Dreyfus & Sons had 855 U.S.-related accounts at their branch, which had a combined value of $1.76 billion.  This bank will pay $24 million of the money collected by DOJ.

Finally, Baumann had 167 U.S.-affiliated accounts with a combined value of $514 million. Penalties for Baumann total $7.7 million.

Banks pay these penalties and enter into non-prosecution agreements to minimize their own potential risk and their own potential legal liability.  They have to agree to report cross-border activities to U.S. authorities and provide detailed information on accountholders who had the offshore accounts.

They even have to turn in other banks who helped to facilitate funds transfers and they must put controls in place to stop unlawful tax evasion practices in the future. 

The penalties and account information obtained provide for even more benefits to the DOJ and IRS. The Criminal Investigation chief was quoted as saying: “the Swiss Bank Program has effectively decimated the hidden offshore banking industry.” 

For those who find themselves caught up in this crackdown, getting legal help from a DC tax law firm is essential as authorities are being aggressive in seeking to impose penalties. Contact Kevin Thorn as soon as possible for assistance.

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