The Schaffhausen Cantonal Bank has settled a tax evasion dispute with the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia with a €3.9 million (CHF4.3 million) payment. The penalty clears the bank for all damages in Germany.
The dispute centered around accounts held for German citizens who failed to declare taxes between 2004 and 2009. Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland borders Germany.
In 2015 the bank also agreed to pay the United States $1.6 million to clear up a similar investigation. Since 2009 the bank says it has adopted a “white money” strategy of demanding that foreign clients clear up their tax affairs or move their money elsewhere.
A string of Swiss banks or Swiss-based branches of foreign financial institutions have fallen foul of the authorities in a range of countries for harbouring tax cheats over the decades. The most damaging case was a wide-ranging investigation by US prosecutors that caught dozens of banks in its net and broke the back of Swiss banking secrecy.
Some German states, like North Rhine-Westphalia, bought stolen bank data from whistleblowers and used it to prosecute Swiss banks. Schaffhausen Cantonal Bank is just the latest case of a Swiss bank settling with the German authorities.
The bank said that the penalty would not have a negative impact its results this year as it had already put aside a legal provision to cover the fine.