Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Iqbal Khan, Credit Suisse Group AG’s head of international wealth management, said he’s surprised by the timing of a tax evasion investigation that led to raids of three of his bank’s offices, days before the bank implements an automatic exchange of information with European authorities.

“This whole action is something that does surprise me in terms of timing,” Khan said in a telephone interview. “We’ve taken a proactive stance and zero tolerance when it comes to tax” evasion in Europe.

Khan said that to his knowledge, the probes target individuals outside the bank. No assets held at Credit Suisse were confiscated, he said. If it turns out that individuals inside the bank violated policies, there would be disciplinary action, though that’s too early to say.

Investigators in the Netherlands arrested two people -- seizing a gold bar, paintings and jewelry -- and are probing dozens more suspected of concealing millions of euros in Swiss accounts, authorities said Friday. Criminal investigations are also underway in Australia, Germany, the U.K. and France and the roles of bank employees are part of the inquiries.

The probes represent a challenge for Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam as he reshapes Credit Suisse to focus on wealth management and weighs options to increase capital depleted by fines for past misbehavior. The bank’s offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam were searched on Thursday.

For more on the probes, click here

Khan said it’s too early to say whether news of the raids will affect business this year. The bank has told investors it expects about 5 billion francs ($5 billion) this year in outflows at Khan’s unit from clients that are becoming tax compliant, though none in Europe because clients there already have to comply with tax laws.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net, Giles Broom in Geneva at gbroom@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Christian Baumgaertel, Cindy Roberts

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