(Removes words "staff group" from headline)
ZURICH Feb 27 A group representing Swiss
bankers demanded an apology from Credit Suisse boss
Brady Dougan on Thursday after he said the practice of helping
Americans conceal their wealth was the work of a few dishonest
The American-born CEO told a U.S. Senate subcommittee on
Wednesday that he and other top managers were not aware a small
group of Credit Suisse private bankers had helped U.S. customers
evade taxes with offshore accounts.
"The evidence showed that some Swiss-based private bankers
went to great lengths to disguise their bad conduct from Credit
Suisse executive management," Dougan told the senators.
He said the wrongdoing appeared to have taken place before
2009 despite "industry-leading compliance measures" at the bank.
The body representing staff at Credit Suisse and other Swiss
banks reacted with astonishment to Dougan's comments, saying it
was "hardly credible" that the bank's bosses knew nothing of the
"It was common knowledge that tax evasion was the strategy,
a business model pursued by many banks for a long time," the
Schweizerischer Bankpersonalverband said in a statement.
It said Dougan's comments "vilify lots of employees that had
nothing to do with offshore U.S. banking", and demanded he
apologize to the bank's 46,000 staff.
Dougan's comments may have been motivated by efforts to
lessen the bank's penalties in the U.S., but he still owes staff
an explanation, the employee group said.
More than 22,000 Americans were using Credit Suisse to park
combined assets of $12 billion at one time, according to a
report released by the U.S. Senate ahead of Wednesday's
The Senate subcommittee alleged Credit Suisse bankers held
secret meetings in luxury hotels and used hidden elevators to
help foreign clients hide their wealth, a practice that one
senator said belonged in a spy novel, not a bank.
Credit Suisse management has accepted responsibility for
wrongdoing by its staff, while rejecting any suggestion that it
was bank policy to help foreign clients hide their wealth from
When the bank sent data on employees to U.S. prosecutors
investigating its U.S. dealings last year, some staff voiced
outrage and went to court to prevent Credit Suisse from
releasing the data.
Credit Suisse last week settled charges levied by the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission, admitting to wrongdoing and
paying $196 million in fines. But a settlement with the Justice
Department is not imminent, a person familiar with the matter
has told Reuters.
Credit Suisse is one of 14 Swiss banks being probed by U.S.
prosecutors over taxes, after UBS became the first
major bank to agree a settlement over the charges. Two smaller
Swiss banks, Wegelin & Cie and Bank Frey, have had to close as a
result of the U.S. investigation.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)