Swiss banks

Hunting Down Tax Dodgers

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  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Some Swiss banks say they’re being unfairly targeted by German prosecutors and that penalties are handed down in an arbitrary and subjective fashion.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Hyposwiss Private Bank in Zurich was slapped with $49.76 million in fines.
    • In total, some 80 institutions have been fined by the U.S. Justice Department and had to pay a total of $1.3 billion.
    • German prosecutors are chasing around 50 small to medium-sized banks suspected of complicity.
  • Audio

    Audio

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It was just last week that the U.S. Justice Department declared an end to its long fight against Switzerland’s secretive banking sector.

“I’d like to thank the Swiss government for their cooperation,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. In a statement, she announced that the last of the big Swiss banks had paid its penance to the United States.

The final target was Hyposwiss Privatbank, a financial firm that has since fallen into bankruptcy, which agreed to pay a fine of $49.76 million. It was one of 80 banks that were caught up in the net and eventually settled under a voluntary disclosure program. U.S. authorities pulled in a total of $1.3 billion (€1.2 billion) in penalties through their aggressive crackdown, as the United States demanded Switzerland’s help to go after the accounts of tax evaders.

The U.S. Justice Department may have finished its operations against the big Swiss banks, but the hunt for smaller fish complicit in tax avoidance goes on in other countries, including Germany.

The state prosecutor in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is now going after dozens of banks suspected of complicity in tax avoidance.

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