For years people used the term “in a Swiss bank account somewhere” to refer to money that had been hidden overseas where the IRS couldn’t reach it. Taking advantage of offshore bank accounts has long been (and still is) a way for rich people to avoid paying taxes on large portions of their wealth, and Swiss banks provided one of the most popular safe havens from American taxes. In theory, that all should have changed in 2014, but according to a whistleblower who used to work for Credit Suisse, a major Swiss bank, the reality is that many Americans are continuing to hide millions of dollars from the IRS with help from Credit Suisse.
Congress and the IRS spent years in the early 2010s investigating Credit Suisse and its involvement in helping American citizens hide their wealth from the IRS. The result was that Credit Suisse ended up pleading guilty and reaching a settlement agreement with federal prosecutors in May of 2014, in which they were fined $2.6 billion. That sounds like a lot, but given how much money they were allegedly helping Americans hide from the IRS, they got off lightly, and that was only because they told the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Senate they wouldn’t do it anymore, and that they would close all the accounts whose holders were in violation of American tax law.
But now the whistleblower is stepping forward claiming Credit Suisse violated its plea deal and has continued to shelter American funds from the IRS.
The whistleblower’s identity remains unknown, but their attorney, Jeffrey Neiman, pointed out that while Credit Suisse was being investigated back in 2013 and 2014, the whistleblower provided information about a retired business professor who turned out to have avoided paying taxes on approximately $200 million with help from Credit Suisse. The information turned out to be valid and the former professor was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, the arrest didn’t affect Credit Suisse’s plea deal, despite the fact that Credit Suisse had failed to disclose to the DOJ the ways in which they had helped the retired professor hide his wealth.
According to the whistleblower, the former professor wasn’t the only one Credit Suisse failed to mention. Out of 22,000 American clients, Credit Suisse was only made to release information on 238, compared to UBS, which had to release the names of closer to 4,500 American clients as part of their agreement with the IRS. Why Credit Suisse was held to a different standard remains a mystery.
The whistleblower says the Biden administration taking over the executive branch of our government was a key reason for their decision to step forward now. Given the previous administration’s weakness where white collar crime was concerned, it was unlikely to act on the information the whistleblower provided.
If federal prosecutors move forward with this information and decide to impose more fines on Credit Suisse, the whistleblower could be entitled to up to 30% of whatever the government collects as a result of their information.
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