Trio Of Swiss Banks Reach Deals With US Authorities

Amisha Mehta Assistant Editor December 21, 2015

Trio Of Swiss Banks Reach Deals With US Authorities

Another three banks have avoided prosecution by settling with US authorities under the Swiss Bank Program.

Bordier & Cie Switzerland, PBZ Verwaltungs and PostFinance have signed non-prosecution agreements with the US Department of Justice over undeclared client accounts.

They bring the total number of settlements under the program to 67. Under the program, each bank agrees to cooperate in any related criminal or civil proceedings, demonstrate its implementation of controls to stop future misconduct and pay a penalty in return for no prosecution.

Bordier, which was founded in 1844 in Geneva, was aware that some of its US clients were using their accounts at the bank to evade taxes and reporting requirements, the DoJ said. In a few cases, the private bank actively helped such US accountholders to do so. For example, Bordier made repeated transfers of undeclared assets under $10,000 to the Montreal bank account of a US taxpayer-client in Canada help the client avoid US tax and reporting obligations and keep the undeclared assets hidden. 

Since 2008, Bordier held 292 US-related accounts with a total of $440.8 million in assets under management. The bank will pay a penalty of $7.827 million.

PBZ was a Zurich-based private bank that ceased its banking activities and had its license revoked last year. As early as 2008, PBZ knew that some of its US-related accounts held untaxed funds, which were described within the bank in one instance as “Schwarzgeld” or “black money”. It opened, maintained and serviced accounts for US persons that it knew or had reason to know were probably not declared to the Internal Revenue Service or the US Department of the Treasury.

From at least 2008 through 2014, PBZ held 171 US-related accounts collectively worth more than $101 million. PBZ will pay a $5.57 million penalty.

Lastly, Bern-headquartered PostFinance opened and maintained undeclared accounts belonging to clients who were not meeting their US tax obligations. Since August 2008, the bank, which has never offered private banking or wealth management services, maintained 2,731 US-related accounts with a value of around $290 million. PostFinance will pay a $2 million penalty.

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