Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Swiss authorities should be involved as early as possible in “huge” cases such as the investigation into alleged tax evasion by clients of Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s attorney-general said, elaborating on comments last week expressing frustration that he did not know in advance about raids on the bank’s offices.

While “we have great cooperation with Eurojust member states,” the whole investigation “could have been handled in a different manner,” Michael Lauber told reporters Wednesday in the Swiss capital Bern. Eurojust is the European Union’s judicial cooperation unit.

Lauber was speaking a day after the country’s financial regulator, Mark Branson, said he learned of the March 30 raids from the Zurich-based bank. The probe, which is examining possible tax evasion by Credit Suisse clients in the Netherlands, France, Germany, the U.K. and Australia, has left Swiss authorities playing catch-up and raised fresh questions as to whether the country’s banks have done enough to clean up their act.

The attorney general’s office said on March 31 that it was “astonished” that it was not informed of the raids coordinated by Eurojust before they happened. It called the decision a breach of international protocol.

Lauber said it’s too early to comment further on details of the probe. He said he’s in touch with the Dutch authorities to learn more about the investigation.

“I’m sure we will find a way to work this out with the Dutch,” he said.

The number of foreign assistance requests to the Swiss prosecutor’s office jumped to 193 last year from 145 in 2015 as more foreign prosecutors reached out for help with their own investigations into money-laundering, corruption and other white-collar crimes, according to its annual report released Wednesday.

These include the Brazilian probe into the “Carwash” bribery scandal, in which Swiss banks were allegedly used to funnel bribes to officials at state-owned oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

To contact the reporters on this story: Hugo Miller in Geneva at hugomiller@bloomberg.net, Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Katz at akatz5@bloomberg.net, Neil Callanan, Andrew Blackman

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