ZURICH (Reuters) - A host of Swiss banks have signaled their readiness to work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes. Many more are expected to follow in the coming weeks, as Switzerland’s cherished bank secrecy slowly gets wound back.
The program requires the banks to hand over some previously hidden information and face penalties equivalent to up to 50 percent of the assets they managed on behalf of wealthy Americans.
The number that join this scheme is key for larger banks facing criminal investigations, so-called category one banks, in the United States, such as Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and Pictet & Cie.
A failure to win broad cooperation in the program could hold up settlements for the bigger banks, which have seen their talks with U.S. justice officials frozen pending a solution for the wider industry.
Following is a list of banks which have said they will take part in the government-brokered program by grouping themselves into categories depending on whether they had U.S. clients.
Swiss banks in this group have a reason to believe they may have committed tax offenses, and are eligible for a non-prosecution agreement if they come clean and face fines. Banks which have said they will do so include:
Banque Privee Edmond de Rothschild
St. Galler Kantonalbank
Banque cantonale de Geneve
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise
Banque cantonale du Jura
These Swiss banks have not engaged in criminal conduct or are deemed “compliant” under U.S. tax rules. They would receive a non-target letter and not face fines. Banks which have said they will do so include:
Bank am Bellevue
Valartis said it will decide at a later time whether to register for Category 3 or not to participate in the program at all.
Most of Switzerland’s private banks, such as Lombard Odier & Cie, Union Bancaire Privee, J. Safra Sarasin are not listed. They are under no obligation to make their decision public, and so far have not done so.
Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Hugh Lawson