Swiss bank accounts under investigation by US, Switzerland

Written by CNN Staff

Law enforcement agencies around the world are hunting for more Swiss bank accounts that might hold billions of dollars of illicitly earned money following a coordinated series of investigations by the US and Swiss authorities.

Many banks are now open to face massive legal bills and fines. Others, including Switzerland’s largest wealth manager, UBS , have voluntarily handed over client data to authorities, with UBS making the first move last year after the US launched a criminal investigation targeting other Swiss banks for suspected tax evasion.

The United States Department of Justice filed a civil action seeking information about 1,300 “UBS client files,” according to its website on Wednesday. However, such information may not be immediately available to the public and individuals must consent to receiving it, which is often the case.

READ: You can now buy a Swiss bank account from the United States without leaving your country

The civil action by the DOJ seeks data under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), legislation signed into law in 2010 that was designed to crack down on the use of offshore tax havens for tax evasion.

According to the DOJ website, “Under FATCA, which requires the submission by foreign financial institutions of information about certain U.S. persons’ financial accounts, financial institutions are required to respond to information requests from the IRS with certain minimum information to help the IRS identify taxpayers.”

Specifically, the DOJ is seeking information from countries, such as Norway, that have yet to sign FATCA. These governments have until June 13 to sign up.

In addition to Norway, Switzerland has already seen some diplomatic repercussions. It has lost the support of some European countries in trying to have the Justice Department’s FATCA lawsuit brought to court.

READ: What is Panama? That country’s secret bank accounts are in the spotlight

Bill Belichick, who built the New England Patriots into one of the best teams in football under his stewardship, agreed to pay $1.34 million after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began investigating him over allegations that he used an undeclared foreign bank account to avoid taxes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

US President Donald Trump’s own finances, meanwhile, are the subject of a massive investigation by the US Special Counsel Robert Mueller over allegations that he orchestrated a scheme to make millions of dollars on real estate transactions and golf-course developments using Russian cash.

Aside from the Financial Times, a number of other news organizations, including Reuters and Reuters news agency, are at the forefront of a clampdown on tax evasion and currency corruption. The latter tracks illicit actions such as money laundering and the misuse of central bank currency reserves.

Story by Nick Nicolson, CNN

Leave a Comment