(Adds detail of agreement, comments from Holder, Credit Suisse)
By Aruna Viswanatha, Douwe Miedema and Karen Freifeld
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK May 19 Swiss bank Credit
Suisse on Monday pleaded guilty to a criminal charge
for its role in helping Americans dodge taxes, U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder said, and will pay more than $2.5 billion as
part of an agreement with U.S. authorities.
Separately, the New York Department of Financial Services
said it had determined not to revoke the bank's license in the
U.S. prosecutors criminally charged Credit Suisse
and two of its units, saying the bank helped clients deceive
U.S. tax authorities by concealing assets in illegal, undeclared
bank accounts, in a conspiracy that spanned decades.
Credit Suisse will pay financial penalties to the U.S.
Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal
Reserve and the New York State Department of Financial Services
to settle the charges. It had already paid $200 million to the
Securities and Exchange Commission.
"This case shows that no financial institution, no matter
its size or global reach, is above the law," Attorney General
Eric Holder said at a press conference.
Credit Suisse Chief Executive Brady Dougan said in a
statement, "We deeply regret the past misconduct that led to
He added, "We have seen no material impact on our business
resulting from the heightened public attention on this issue in
the past several weeks."
The Swiss bank, which has a large business managing wealthy
clients' money, helped them withdraw money from their undeclared
accounts by either providing hand-delivered cash to the United
States or using Credit Suisse's correspondent bank accounts in
the U.S., the Justice Department said.
Credit Suisse was the largest bank to plead guilty to a
criminal charge in 20 years, Holder said, amid a push by U.S.
politicians for tougher punishments for big banks after the
2007-2009 financial crisis.
Dougan, who has come under pressure from Swiss politicians
to resign, and Chairman Urs Rohner, would both stay in their
jobs as part of the settlement, a person close to Credit Suisse
said on Monday.
U.S. authorities have not often sought criminal convictions
against a financial institution, fearing it could put a firm out
of business, and result in lost jobs for people that had nothing
to do with the crime, or jeopardize the financial system.
Ahead of the official announcement of the agreement,
financial markets had been calm in the face of potentially stiff
penalties against Credit Suisse. There had been no indications
other banks have stopped doing business with the Swiss bank. It
was still obtaining short-term funds in the repo and commercial
paper markets, analysts said.
(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha in Washington, Karen Freifeld in
New York, and Oliver Hirt in Zurich; Additional reporting by Dan
Wilchins and Richard Leong in New York and Douwe Miedema in
Washington; Writing by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Karey Van Hall,
Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernard Orr)