Former Credit Suisse Officials Indicted For Assisting U.S. Taxpayers Evade Taxes Since 1953

The IRS emphasis on international and offshore tax violations continues. Today, the government made clear that U.S. prosecutions for cross-border tax evasion did not end with the 2009 landmark UBS settlement, which followed a tax whistleblower’s approaching U.S officials.

The Justice Department announced today that three more former Credit Suisse bankers have been indicted for helping U.S. taxpayers evade U.S. taxes.

Credit Suisse has been under U.S. scrutiny for at least the past year. Today’s indictments of three former officials bring to seven the number of Credit Suisse bankers charged thus far.

Indicted today were Markus Walder, the former head of North America Offshore Banking and a former senior Credit Suisse official; Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, a former manager; Andreas Bachmann, a former banker at a subsidiary of Credit Suisse; and Josef Dorig, the founder of a Swiss trust company that worked with Credit Suisse.

According to DOJ’s announcement, the bank’s managers and bankers “engaged in illegal cross-border banking that was designed to assist U.S. customers evade their income taxes by opening and maintaining secret bank accounts at the bank and other Swiss banks. As of the fall of 2008, the international bank maintained thousands of secret accounts for U.S. customers with as much as $3 billion in total assets under management in those accounts. The conspiracy dates back to 1953 and involved two generations of U.S. tax evaders including U.S. customers who inherited secret accounts at the international bank.”

The government also alleged that the defendants provided “unlicensed and unregistered banking services to U.S. customers with undeclared accounts.” They allegedly concealed their wrongdoing by making false statements and providing misleading information to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the IRS.

The indictments are part of a broader U.S. investigation into various Swiss and other foreign banks. They reportedly include HSBC; Julius Baer; and Basler Kantonalbank. Significantly, the Credit Suisse investigation has resulted in more indictments than the UBS investigation.

Tax evasion using international and offshore accounts will continue to be a focus of the IRS’s efforts, especially now that the IRS Whistleblower Program is bringing in more and more information about these violations.