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Tax Evasion: Alive & Well in Credit Suisse and Other Swiss Banks?

March 31, 2017

[Photo: by Matthias Zepper / Wikimedia Commons]


TAX EVASION has reared its ugly head, and a Swiss banking giant is once again at the heart of a tax evasion and money laundering investigation. On Thursday, Dutch authorities coordinated raids of Credit Suisse offices in 5 countries: the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, France, Australia.


The Dutch office for financial crimes prosecution (FIOD) said the raids were prompted by a tip-off about 55,000 suspect accounts of a Swiss bank - that money and assets had been deposited with proper disclosure to government authorities. The Dutch FIOD, in turn, passed that information to the other countries.


According to Bloomberg News, the raids on Thursday netted 2 arrests and the seizure of bank documents and assets worth millions – including a gold bar, paintings, and jewelry. To make matters worse for Credit Suisse, criminal investigations have now begun in the U.K., Germany, Australia and France and they are likely to grow in scope.


The U.K. taxing authority issued a statement that it was investigating "senior employees" at a global financial institution, while Australia’s Serious Financial Crime Taskforce said it had identified 346 of its citizens "with links to Swiss banking relationship managers alleged to have actively promoted and facilitated tax evasion schemes."


While Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General said it was "disconcerted" by the way Dutch authorities had handled the matter, the U.K. authority put the matter into perspective by with the following statement: "The international reach of this investigation sends a clear message that there is no hiding place for those seeking to evade tax." 


SURPRISING TAKE-AWAY. Yesterday’s raids and news of large scale tax evasion are a big shock to the Swiss banking system. How is it possible that Credit Suisse and Switzerland’s other banks are once again involved with tax evasion by their clients? Since 2011, Credit Suisse and other Swiss banks have paid out billions in fines to settle charges by U.S., German and Italian authorities that they had facilitated tax evasion by their clients. 


While it’s understandable that individuals will go to great lengths to evade taxes, it’s perhaps incredulous that so many employees of Credit Suisse Swiss banks may have facilitated the tax evasion and money laundering crimes of their clients.