Swiss Banker to Royalty to Pay $45.4 Million to End U.S. Tax Probe

  • U.S. has accords with 68 Swiss banks, raising $802.3 million
  • Rothschild helped clients move cash, use offshore structures

Edmond de Rothschild (Suisse) SA agreed to pay $45.4 million to avoid prosecution for helping U.S. clients evade taxes, admitting it aided them in moving cash and using sham offshore entities to hide money from the Internal Revenue Service.

Rothschild is the 68th Swiss bank to reach an accord with the U.S. Justice Department this year, which has secured $802.3 million under a disclosure program that requires firms to say how they helped Americans cheat and where their money went.

In a non-prosecution agreement, the bank signed a statement of facts that detailed misconduct by relationship managers at Edmond de Rothschild (Suisse) and a Lugano unit that handled 950 U.S. accounts that held $2.16 billion between 2008 and 2013. In that period, Rothschild processed at least 155 cash withdrawals of $30,000 or more for 53 U.S. clients, including one that took out $2.53 million in one transaction, according to the agreement.

The relationship managers coordinated with an external asset manager who set up an offshore entity in Singapore, and they “knew or had reason to know” clients used advisers to set up structures in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Liechtenstein, according to the pact, released Friday by the Justice Department.

Rothschild said the settlement will have no impact on its financial results. The bank links itself to seven generations of financiers who have advised royalty, governments, and railway barons for 250 years.

The bank also said in the accord that it helped clients in “covertly repatriating offshore funds” by providing credit cards, cash cards and debit cards to move money not declared to the IRS. “These services allowed U.S. clients to withdraw funds remotely or pay for goods and services without a paper trail back to their undeclared accounts in Switzerland,” according to the agreement.

The pact is part of a Justice Department program that spares participants criminal liability in the U.S. if they disclose their wrongdoing. To reduce their penalties, Swiss banks have prodded thousands of their U.S. clients to reveal hidden accounts to the IRS.

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