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Berner Kantonalbank AG Providing Information About Accountholders

Offshore Account Update

Posted in on September 25, 2015

Berner Kantonalbank AG is one of many banks to become part of the Swiss Bank Program. The Swiss Bank Program was created by the Department of Justice to let banks avoid prosecution under U.S. tax laws and U.S. monetary laws.

If the banks come forward, report their activities in connection with facilitating tax evasion and turn over information on U.S. accountholders, they can avoid having authorities press criminal charges. The problem for accountholders is that when these banks come forward, this can lead to individuals being prosecuted for tax crimes.

If you have undeclared offshore accounts and you join the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), you can avoid being prosecuted and you can limit the amount you will need to pay in penalties. However, if your bank has already given your information to the DOJ and IRS, and you are being investigated, it will be too late for you to take advantage of OVDP.

OVDP still has substantial penalties, especially after the IRS raised the amount of the penalty in August of 2014. Accountholders are advised to talk with a New Jersey criminal tax attorney before coming forward to make voluntary disclosures. An attorney can explain the risks of delaying reporting, benefits of reporting and options for trying to minimize penalties and avoid criminal prosecution.

Bank Will Provide Details About U.S. Accountholders

Berner Kantonalbank AG signed a non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ and agreed to pay more than $4 million in penalties. The DOJ has agreed not to prosecute the bank for tax crimes under Title 18 and Title 26 of the US Code or for monetary transaction crimes under U.S. Code Title 31 Sections 5314 and 5322.

As part of the agreement, Berner Kantonalbank AG must do much more than pay penalties. The bank has to agree to close the accounts of people affiliated with the United States who are not in full compliance with IRS reporting requirements.

The bank also has to cooperate with DOJ and IRS investigations, as well as with other federal law enforcement agencies designated by the Department of Justice. Detailed information must be provided on all accounts held by people affiliated with the U.S., including the maximum dollar values of the accounts and the relationship of U.S. individuals and entities to the accounts.

The details that Berner Kantonalbank AG must provide about U.S. accountholders will give sufficient information to tax authorities to begin investigating those individual accountholders. This, in turn, could result in criminal prosecutions. Individuals and U.S.-based entities that do not come forward voluntarily to report their previously undisclosed offshore funds are at risk of facing criminal charges.

Criminal tax attorney Kevin Thorn can provide advice to those who wish to explore amnesty programs and to those who are under investigation or facing charges for not disclosing their offshore accounts. It is important to be proactive in reaching out to an attorney before you face criminal charges because your bank has turned over your private account information.


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