Credit Suisse 'used Sports Illustrated' to help US citizens evade tax

The Swiss bank is one of 14 in trouble over alleged tax evasion. By the sounds of it, its practices would put James Bond's Q to shame...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 04 Feb 2016

Naughty Credit Suisse: the Swiss bank has allegedly been helping US nationals avoid paying tax by, among other things, shredding documents, holding meetings in a secret elevator that ‘had no buttons and was controlled remotely’ and, er, hiding bank statements inside copies of Sports Illustrated. Brings a new meaning to the term ‘dirty money’...

All in all, according to a claim by the the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations filed today, 1,800 Credit Suisse bankers helped as many as 22,000 American customers avoid taxes on $12bn of assets.

Four Credit Suisse bosses, including chief exec Brady Dougan, are due to undergo a grilling later today - but though ritual humiliation in front of a Senate committee is bad, things could get a lot worse: the bank is also involved in talks with the Department of Justice over the charges which could end up costing it $800m. And all this after it agreed to pay the Securities Exchange Commission $196.5m last week because of cross-border brokerage and investment advisory services it provided to unregistered US clients…

Credit Suisse is unlikely to be the only bank accused of dodgy dealings like this: at the moment, 14 others are under investigation by US authorities and Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate committee, has rather a bee in his bonnet over the issue.

‘The battle against tax havens using secrecy laws to facilitate US tax evasion has… [caused] a huge loss to our Treasury,’ he said. ‘[Credit Suisse] aided and abetted US tax evasion, not only from behind a veil of secrecy in Switzerland, but also on US soil… They owe Uncle Sam. They owe the people of the United States.’

Be afraid, Swiss banks. Be very afraid…

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