* Basler expects full-year profit to be halved
* Says dividend payouts not affected
* Credit Suisse took 295 mln Sfr provision in 2011
* Julius Baer has not taken any provisions for U.S. tax
ZURICH, Dec 19 Basler Kantonalbank said
it will take a 100 million Swiss franc ($112.74 million)
provision against full-year earnings to cover legal costs and
fines from a U.S. crackdown on tax evasion.
The Basel-based bank said it expected full-year profit to be
roughly half the 255.7 million francs it reported 2012, but that
its ability to pay out a year-end dividend to shareholders and
its majority owner, the local government, is not affected.
The bank said the move is in response to the Swiss financial
regulator telling all Swiss banks, either being investigated or
coming clean in a government-brokered programme, to prepare
The programme, brokered by the Swiss and U.S. governments,
is to allow banks to avoid U.S. prosecution for aiding tax
This could mean a wave of provisions from Swiss banks, which
have until the end of the year to come forward if they are not
already being investigated formally.
Many have done so, including Geneva-based Banque Privee
Edmond de Rothschild, which came forward on Thursday,
though EFG International is one of the few that has
remained silent on its intentions thus far.
Swiss financial regulator FINMA denied that it called for
Swiss banks to take provisions but said that it may issue
recommendations later based on consultations it is conducting
with trade bodies.
A spokesman for Basler Kantonalbank said the bank had
nothing to add to its earlier statement.
The success of the scheme, open to a host of second-tier
banks in Switzerland, is key for a future settlement for 14
larger Swiss banks being investigated. Among those under
investigation are Credit Suisse, Julius Baer
, Pictet, local government-backed Zuercher Kantonalbank
(ZKB) and Basler Kantonalbank.
Credit Suisse, which took a 295 million franc provision two
years ago, and Julius Baer, which has not set anything aside,
declined to comment on Thursday.
The U.S. pursuit of tax dollars sheltered in offshore
accounts has piled pressure on Switzerland, the world's largest
offshore finance centre with more than $2 trillion in assets.