May 20, 2015 / 4:55 PM / 4 years ago

Swiss banks in U.S. criminal probe face longer wait -U.S. ambassador

ZURICH, May 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. criminal investigation into how Swiss banks such as Julius Baer allegedly helped wealthy Americans to hide their money is likely to stretch into next year, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland signalled in a newspaper interview.

The criminal probe into a handful of banks has paved the way for a programme for the wider Swiss banking industry to avoid prosecution by disclosing activities that helped American account holders conceal their assets and income.

While several banks in the second group have reached settlements in recent weeks, and U.S. officials have voiced optimism that the programme will be concluded by year-end, there has been little clarity for the original banks under formal investigation, which are excluded from the programme.

“There is a different road map for these banks, and it will almost certainly last longer,” Suzan LeVine told the Handelszeitung newspaper in an interview, according to an advance text from Thursday’s edition.

A U.S. embassy official in Berne confirmed LeVine’s comments.

The largest bank in that group was Credit Suisse, which settled a year ago. Others such as Julius Baer have repeatedly voiced their eagerness to negotiate settlements. (Reporting by Katharina Bart)

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