(Adds details from the sentencing, background, statements from the defendants, and comments from Dorig’s attorney)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON, March 27 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday decided not to require prison time for two former Credit Suisse Group AG bankers who pleaded guilty to helping U.S. customers evade taxes by using Swiss accounts.
U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Lee sentenced Andreas Bachmann and Josef Dorig to serve five years of unsupervised probation and ordered them to pay fines of $100,000 and $125,000, respectively.
Bachmann and Dorig both pleaded guilty last spring to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Their plea deals were part of a long-running probe by U.S. officials into Americans who hid assets in Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes.
In May, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to helping Americans avoid paying taxes and agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine. [ID: nL1N0O51S6]
Bachmann and Dorig, both Swiss nationals, could have faced prison time for their crimes. But the U.S. Justice Department asked the judge to sentence them to probation instead.
The two former bankers voluntarily agreed to come to the U.S. to face the charges. They were indicted along with several other bankers, all of whom still remain abroad.
In court on Friday, both men expressed remorse for their actions.
“I want nothing more than to take full responsibility for the mistakes I have made,” Bachmann told the judge.
Dorig, who is in his 70s, also said he was “deeply sorry.”
Bachmann once worked as a relationship manager in Switzerland where he served primarily American and German clients.
From 1994 through 2006, he traveled to the United States where he would meet with U.S. clients in hotels or other places to show them their account statements.
The clients did not routinely receive statements, because they feared the documents could be seized by the government.
In court documents, Bachmann said he was told by one of his supervisors to be sure not to “get caught.” [ID: nL2N0M91MN]
Robert Henoch, an attorney at Kobre & Kim who represented Dorig, said on Friday the U.S. should be focused on prosecuting the Americans who dodged taxes.
“The system is clearly broken, stacked, and unfair to foreign bankers and trust company officials,” he said.
“(Dorig) was put through a four year ordeal while U.S. nationals committing the object crime of tax evasion were allowed to escape with a fine, without even a slap on the wrist.”
The case is U.S. v. Bachmann et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, No. 11-cr-00095. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Emily Stephenson and Marguerita Choy)