The Swiss Bank Program lets banks pay penalties and enter into non-prosecution agreements to avoid criminal charges for helping to facilitate tax evasion. The banks can't just pay the penalty to participate -- they also have to provide information to the Department of Justice about accountholders and their tax evasion activities.
The Swiss Bank Program has been enormously successful in helping authorities collect penalties and obtain information they need to go after tax evaders. In fact, the Criminal Investigation Chief of the Internal Revenue Service stated: “the Swiss Bank Program has effectively decimated the hidden offshore banking industry.”
Accountholders with money in offshore banks need to be aware of the tremendous success of the Swiss Bank Program in convincing banks to sell out customers and give up their private information. Just recently, Courthouse News Service reported that an additional three banks have signed non-prosecution agreements. Anyone with funds offshore should speak with a New Jersey tax law firm to find out if their bank has provided information that could lead to an investigation, and to find out what their options are for minimizing the possible consequences if they're accused of tax evasion.
More Banks Participate in the Swiss Bank Program
The three additional banks turning over accountholder info had hundreds of accounts owned by U.S.-affiliated individuals, and these accounts collectively had billions of dollars in them. For the banks’ part in facilitating tax violations by these accountholders, the three institutions must collectively pay $130 million. The payment, and the provision of detailed account information, puts an end to the threat of criminal charges as part of the banks' non-prosecution agreement.
The newly-participating banks are:
- Credit Agricole Suisse, at which 954 legal and illegal bank accounts were held with a combined value of $1.8 billion. The DOJ is collecting $99.2 million in penalties from Credit Agricole Suisse.
- Dreyfus & Sons, at which 855 U.S. accounts were held totaling an estimated $1.76 billion. Penalties for Dreyfus & Sons total $24 million.
- Baumann, at which 167 U.S. affiliated accounts were held that totaled at a combined $514 million. Baumann will pay penalties to DOJ of $7.7 million.
Accountholders with funds at these institutions should be aware that the banks provided info to DOJ about all cross-border transactions. Accountholder information is turned over by banks participating in the Swiss Bank Program, and banks also give the DOJ information about other financial institutions that facilitated funds transfers.
As these three banks become additions to a long list of financial institutions turning over private client info, anyone with funds offshore should be aware that he or she is vulnerable to having the IRS and DOJ obtain his financial information.
If you are concerned about the possibility of being investigated for tax evasion, or even for failure to file annual reports of offshore accounts, talk with a New Jersey tax law firm about what options you may have available. There are also amnesty programs for individual offshore investors that can reduce possible consequences of tax violations, just like the Swiss Bank Program allows financial institutions to minimize penalties and avoid prosecution. Contact attorney Kevin Thorn for more information about your options.