* Rahn & Bodmer informed of U.S. investigation last week
* Bank says stopped accepting undeclared assets in 2008
By Martin de Sa'Pinto
ZURICH, Sept 11 Swiss private bank Rahn & Bodmer
is under investigation by U.S. authorities, it said on
Wednesday, the latest bank to be targeted in lengthy dispute
over tax evasion.
The Zurich-based bank, set up as a silk trader in 1750, has
come under investigation despite a recent Swiss-U.S. deal to
allow some Swiss banks to pay fines to avoid or defer
prosecution over tax evasion by their U.S. customers.
That deal was a step forward in a long-running U.S. drive to
pierce the shroud of Swiss bank secrecy and applies to about 100
second-tier Swiss banks, which could have to disclose
information and face penalties of up to 50 percent of assets
they managed on behalf of wealthy Americans.
The agreement did not, however, cover a first group of banks
already under U.S. criminal investigation including Credit
Suisse, Julius Baer and state-backed
regional bank Zuercher Kantonalbank.
"We knew we would have to go to U.S. authorities, so we
began to prepare the documentation concerning our U.S. business
some months ago, believing we would be in the second group,"
said Rahn & Bodmer partner Christian Rahn by telephone.
"It is difficult to evaluate whether being in the first
group of banks is better for us or not."
He said the bank was informed last week that it was under
The bank will not need to set aside capital to meet
regulatory requirements if it has to pay a fine, as it has
provisions which will cover a potential payment to the United
States, Rahn said.
Credit Suisse and Julius Baer said in July they were
preparing information on client withdrawals demanded by U.S.
investigators to help pinpoint tax evasion, which may have
fingered other banks.
However, Rahn said he did not believe his bank was being
investigated as a result of data in the so-called "leavers
lists", as it had stopped accepting undeclared U.S. assets in
2008 and advised clients with such assets to make voluntary
disclosures to the U.S. authorities.
According to its website, the bank was established in 1750,
and at the end of 2012 managed client assets of 12.5 billion
Swiss francs ($13.4 billion). It employs around 200 people.
It is the oldest bank remaining in the German-speaking part
of Switzerland after St. Gallen based Wegelin shut its doors
earlier this year following an indictment and fine by U.S.
authorities for conspiring to help U.S. clients evade taxes.
UBS paid a fine of $780 million in 2009 and
delivered the names of more than 4,000 clients to avoid
indictment, giving the U.S. authorities the information that has
enabled them to pursue other Swiss banks.