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August 29, 2018

Basler Kantonalbank fined $60.4m for aiding tax evasion

Basler Kantonalbank, a Swiss cantonal bank, has agreed to a $60.4m settlement with the US authorities over charges that it helped US clients dodge taxes.

The Swiss bank has signed a deferred-prosecution agreement, admitting that it conspired with its staff, external asset managers, and clients to aid tax evasion and file false federal tax returns from 2002 to 2012.

The bank is said to have held around $813.2m worth of accounts for nearly 1,144 US clients at its peak in 2010.

Several of these accounts were undeclared, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

The settlement amount includes a payment of $17.2m to the IRS that represents unpaid taxes resulting from the bank’s involvement in the conspiracy, $29.7m to the US government that represents gross fees earned on undeclared accounts, and a penalty of $13.5m.

US attorney for the southern district of Florida Benjamin Greenberg said: “U. S. citizens who seek to avoid their tax obligations by hiding income in undeclared bank accounts abroad, and the financial institutions that assist them in doing so, will be held accountable for their actions, both civilly and criminally.

“In this case, BKB will not only pay a criminal fine and restitution, but also a civil forfeiture of $29.7 million in proceeds illegally derived from their conduct. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to helping the IRS investigate and prosecute not only those who evade their taxes, but the financial institutions that assist them in doing so.”

Earlier this month, Zuercher Kantonalbank, another Swiss cantonal bank, was fined $98.5m on similar grounds.

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