The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has filed a ‘John Doe’ summons against US taxpayers with offshore accounts at FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB), formerly co-owned by Barclays.

John Doe Summonses are used by the IRS to obtain information on US taxpayers, who may have undisclosed foreign accounts around the world and might be in violation of internal revenue laws.

The IRS request for information extends back to 2004, during the period of Barclays’ co-ownership of FCIB, and also details some activity directly involving Barclays branches in the Caribbean before the formation of FCIB.

The summons uses the fact that the US bank Wells Fargo maintained "correspondent" accounts to access its offshore accounts from within the US as part of the basis for its claim.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo said: "Wells Fargo intends to respond to the order as legally required."

The IRS launched the investigation after 120 FCIB account holders came forward under the IRS voluntary disclosure program.

The account holders who voluntarily provided information may escape sanctions by the IRS but others who have not reported and may be found out under the court order may face stiff penalties.

Meanwhile, bank executives in the Caribbean have expressed concern over the IRS action and termed it as a ‘scary move".