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Bankers Charged at Oldest Swiss Bank With Hiding $1.2 Billion From U.S. Government

Posted Jan 4, 2012 1:22 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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U.S. prosecutors charged employees at Switzerland’s oldest bank this week of scheming with wealthy U.S. taxpayers to hide more than $1.2 billion.

Wegelin & Company confirmed the indictment of three of its bankers Wednesday, a day after the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York announced charges against three men “who sought to capture business lost by UBS A.G. and another large international Swiss bank” in the wake of media reports of the I.R.S.’s pursuit of the banks in 2008 and 2009, the New York Times Dealbook and Reuters report.

The three bank employees told American clients not to worry about the I.R.S. because their bank “had a long tradition of bank secrecy,” prosecutors said, according to the New York Times. They also advised “their U.S. taxpayer-clients that the bank was less vulnerable to United States law enforcement pressure because, unlike UBS, the bank did not have offices outside Switzerland.”

The employees charged have taken on other duties and no longer service American clients, the bank said in a statement, according to the New York Times. In another recent case, UBS, the largest Swiss bank, paid $780 million and turned over details about thousands of client accounts to end prosecution.

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