Swiss bank Pictet denies being probed by U.S.: report

ZURICH Sat May 12, 2012 8:30pm EDT

A sign bearing the logo of family owned private bank Pictet is pictured at the company headquarters in Geneva May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A sign bearing the logo of family owned private bank Pictet is pictured at the company headquarters in Geneva May 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Pictet denied it is being investigated by U.S. officials as part of a probe into how wealthy Americans used hidden Swiss offshore accounts to avoid taxes, in an interview with Saturday's edition of Finanz und Wirtschaft.

"We're not in the crosshairs of American officials. However, no bank in the world can guarantee that that will never be the case at any point in the future," Pictet partner Nicolas Pictet is quoted as saying in the interview.

Pictet's comments follow the secretive private bank's admission Sunday that it handed over account details to the U.S. in November 2010, reportedly after U.S. authorities discovered Pictet accepted funds from UBS (UBSN.VX).

UBS was the first Swiss bank to come under scrutiny by U.S. authorities in a tax evasion crackdown, an investigation it settled in 2009 by handing over client data, admitting wrong-doing, and paying a $780 million fine to avert prosecution.

U.S. officials have subsequently mined the UBS data as well as a flood of voluntary disclosures by U.S. citizens.

Since then, investigations have focused on eleven other banks including Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and Julius Baer (BAER.VX). The U.S. and Swiss governments are negotiating for an industry-wide solution to shield the remainder of its 300 or so banks from U.S. prosecution.

(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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