(New throughout, updates with further details from the
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, March 4 A U.S. court on Monday
sentenced Wegelin & Co, the oldest Swiss private bank, to pay
$57.85 million after it admitted to helping wealthy Americans
The sum ordered by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New
York was on top of $16.3 million in forfeitures already obtained
by authorities after the federal government accused Wegelin of
conspiring to assist U.S. taxpayers hide $1.2 billion in secret
Swiss bank accounts. The judge questioned whether the size of
the settlement appropriately reflected the extent of wrongdoing
that the government alleged.
The bank, which sold off most of its business during the
investigation and is now planning to close, pleaded guilty to
conspiracy in January.
Rakoff followed prosecutors' recommendations and imposed a
$22.05 million fine and ordered $20 million in restitution. He
also entered an order finalizing $15.82 million in forfeitures,
which he preliminarily approved at the time of the guilty plea.
But while Rakoff approved the settlement deal, he said there
was a "funny tension" between the U.S. Justice Department's
decision not to seek the maximum $40 million fine and its
assertion Wegelin acted with "extreme willfulness."
Rakoff said even including the $16.3 millon the government
recovered in April 2012 by seizing money in its U.S.
correspondent account, Wegelin will be giving up just 12 percent
of the 560 million Swiss francs ($613 million) it earned after
it sold most of its assets to Raiffeisen Switzerland last
"Not much pain there, is there?" Rakoff said.
Rakoff also sentenced the bank to one month of probation.
Wegelin was indicted in February 2012 after prosecutors said
the bank began going after U.S. clients of UBS AG once the
Justice Department's probe of that bank became public in 2008.
UBS agreed to pay a $780 million fine to end the probe in
The case is U.S. v. Wegelin & Co, et al, U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York, 12-cr-00002.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by David