* Raiffeisen bought Wegelin's non-U.S. business
* U.S. charged Wegelin with helping Americans evade taxes
* Raiffeisen looking to get rid of U.S. clients
* Switzerland may present "clean money" strategy later this
ZURICH, Feb 5 Raiffeisen, the Swiss bank
that bought local rival Wegelin after it buckled under a
campaign by U.S. authorities against tax cheats, is cutting ties
with its own U.S.-linked clients, its boss told a newspaper on
Raiffeisen chief executive Pierin Vincenz told Switzerland's
SonntagsBlick that foreigners only accounted for around 3
percent of Raiffeisen's customers, however.
"We decided last Autumn not to have any deposit relations
with U.S.-Americans. Our business was never focused on them. We
also don't give out any bank statements in English," Vincenz
"Still, we have 220 of such customers, which have close ties
with Switzerland, and they have 58 million Swiss francs with the
bank," he said.
"What is clear is that we are getting rid of all clients who
have a link with the United States. This includes Swiss clients
who have children studying there," Vincenz said.
At the end of last month, 270-year-old Wegelin said it had
moved most of its employees, along with clients and assets of 21
billion Swiss francs, to Notenstein Privatbank.
Notenstein has in turn been bought by Swiss cooperative bank
Raiffeisen for an undisclosed sum.
The United States has now indicted St.Gallen-based Wegelin
on charges it enabled Americans to evade taxes on at least $1.2
billion in offshore bank accounts.
Switzerland and the United States have been locked in a tax
dispute for years. In 2009, Switzerland's biggest bank by market
value, UBS, paid $780 million to settle criminal
charges and turned over the names of 4,500 clients to the United
The U.S. Justice Department is probing 11 Swiss and
Swiss-style banks, including Wegelin, which drew the ire of U.S.
authorities by taking on U.S. clients of UBS after their
The investigations are also focused on Credit Suisse
and Basler Kantonalbank, among others.
Swiss finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is hoping for
a deal with the United States this year. She has also said
Switzerland was discussing possible fines its banking industry
will face to secure a global civil settlement with the United
Swiss media reported on Sunday that many of the banks
involved in the tax dispute would be prepared to hand over
uncoded data to the United States as soon as possible.
"We cannot wait until the (Swiss) Finance Department has
perhaps by the end of the year negotiated a global solution with
the United States. The risk is high that by then a second bank
will be pushed into ruin because of a U.S. indictment,"
newspaper SonntagsZeitung quoted an unnamed banker as saying.
The SonntagsZeitung also reported that the Swiss government
was hoping to come up with a "clean money" strategy by the end
of February, which would require banks to ask foreign customers
to prove that their money has been taxed, according to several
Julius Baer is due to post its full-year results on Monday,
and the focus is likely to be on the provisions it has made for
a possible fine from U.S. authorities, with insiders putting
this number at 150 million francs, Swiss newspaper Sonntag
In an interview with Sonntag, the chief executive of Basler
Kantonalbank said he had not received any indication that U.S.
authorities were preparing an indictment against his bank.
"Neither the bank itself nor any of the individual employees
are facing an indictment. A worse-case scenario in the sense of
an indictment would limit our business, but it would not put the
financial security of the bank in question," said Basler
Kantonalbank chief executive Hans Rudolf Matter.