Major Swiss Bank Admits To Aiding US Citizens in Hiding Billions

( – It’s a well-known fact that some US taxpayers hide money in countries like Switzerland to avoid paying taxes. A major bank has now admitted to helping those who wish to skirt their fiscal responsibilities.

On December 4, the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs announced the Swiss bank Banque Pictet et Cie SA admitted it conspired to hide $5.6 billion. US taxpayers and others concealed the money in 1,637 undisclosed bank accounts in Switzerland and other places to try to shield it from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The Pictet Group is a private Swiss bank that was founded in 1805. Its headquarters are in Geneva, and it has approximately 3,800 employees in Switzerland, Hong Kong, the Bahamas, Luxembourg, and Singapore. It operated two business divisions, including private banking for individuals. The bank adopted policies to ensure the US clients it serviced were complying with US law.

In 2008, the Department of Justice began investigating foreign banks for allegedly helping US taxpayers dodge their taxes. The probe found that from 2008 through 2014, the bank helped some US taxpayers evade their tax obligations by hiding accounts from the IRS. They did so by establishing and holding undeclared accounts for the supposed tax evaders.

In the end, US taxpayers evaded roughly $50.6 million. To avoid further prosecution, the institution entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and will pay the US Treasury Department approximately $122.9 million, which consists of a $52,164,201 payment to the US government. It will also pay the IRS $31,844,192 in restitution and a $38,950,998 penalty.

In the prosecution agreement, the bank agreed that it would refrain from committing crimes, cooperate with all investigations, and implement remedial measures. They must also release information related to the DOJ’s Swiss Bank Program. Pictet must comply with the deferred agreement for three years at which time the charges will be dropped.

US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) thanked prosecutors and law enforcement for helping to close the case against the bank. He said that rooting out other crimes like this is a priority for his office.

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