Basler KB to pay $60.4 million to settle U.S. tax dispute

WASHINGTON/ZURICH (Reuters) - Basler Kantonalbank BSKP.S said on Tuesday it had settled a long-standing tax dispute with the U.S. Justice Department and will pay $60.4 million in penalties, less than the 100 million Swiss francs ($100 million) it had set aside for the purpose.

“The bank signed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement and committed to pay $60.4 million. The bank had made a provision of 100 million Swiss francs for this purpose in December 2013,” the bank said in a statement.

It said it would release the remaining provision of around 33 million francs, which would boost the bank’s results in the second half of 2018.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a separate statement the Swiss bank admitted in the agreement that between 2002 and 2012 it conspired with employees, external asset managers and clients to commit tax evasion and file false federal tax returns.

At its peak in 2010, the value of the accounts it held for U.S. customers totaled approximately $813.2 million, according to the department, which added that many but not all of those accounts were used for tax evasion.

Switzerland’s biggest cantonal bank, Zuercher Kantonalbank (ZKB) [ZKB.UL], settled a similar U.S. investigation earlier this month, agreeing to pay about $98 million.

The cases emerged from a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion by wealthy Americans utilizing undeclared Swiss bank accounts.

($1 = 0.9957 Swiss francs)

Reporting by Lisa Lambert in Washington and Silke Koltrowitz in Zurich; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama/David Evans