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Swiss private bank Rahn+Bodmer settles US tax evasion charge

The firm’s bankers helped about 340 US taxpayers hide certain assets and funds held in Swiss bank accounts. Keystone / Walter Bieri

Zurich’s oldest private bank has agreed to pay $22 million (CHF20 million) in penalties to defer prosecution charges by the United States tax authorities. 

This content was published on March 12, 2021 - 13:45
Keystone-SDA/ac

“This venerated banking institution knowingly offered banking services that assisted its US customers in evading their tax obligations, and affirmatively schemed to conceal from the [Internal Revenue Service] IRS the assets and income of US accountholders,” said Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss on Thursday. 

According to the US Justice Department (DoJ), the firm’s bankers helped about 340 US taxpayers hide certain assets and funds held in Swiss bank accounts that were not declared to US authorities. The loss of revenue to the IRS is estimated at $16.4 million during the 2004-2012 period. 

Rahn+Bodmer agreed to pay back $4.9 million in unpaid taxes, $9.7 million in fees earned from managing the undeclared accounts and a $7.4 million fine to the authorities. If the Zurich-based institution, founded in 1750, abides by all of the terms of the agreement, the US government will defer prosecution on the information for three years and then seek to dismiss the charge. 

Rahn+Bodmer was one of the few Swiss banks still on the DoJ's radar. Private bank Pictet is now the last Swiss institution on the list. When contacted by press agency AWP, the Geneva-based banking group said it had not heard from the US authorities yet and was unable to say when a resolution to the dispute might be reached. 

The US authorities launched a major offensive against tax evasion in 2014, targeting numerous Swiss banks and imposing total financial penalties of well over $1 billion. 

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