Wyss Emerges Among Youngest Woman Billionaires in SynthesDavid de Jong and Zeke Faux
Amy Wyss, the daughter of Switzerland’s second-richest man, surfaced as a billionaire in a U.S. Senate report released last month on offshore tax evasion and accounting violations.
The 42-year-old transferred $1.8 billion from an account with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Credit Suisse Group AG in 2012, according to e-mails cited in the report’s exhibits.
While her name is redacted in the report, Hansjoerg Wyss, her father, confirmed their identities two weeks ago to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung. The report only identifies him as Client 5.
“I don’t really care, the sums were known,” the newspaper quoted Wyss as saying in a March 1 interview.
Hansjoerg Wyss, 78, sold Synthes Inc. for $19.7 billion to Johnson & Johnson in 2011, and has a net worth of $13.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
At the February hearings, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations criticized Zurich-based Credit Suisse for helping Americans evade taxes. Neither Wyss was accused of hiding money from the U.S. Instead, the family fortune was the object of a tug-of-war between Swiss and U.S. executives at the bank who wanted to take credit for managing the accounts, according to documents released by the Senate.
By shifting the assets on paper from the U.S. to Switzerland, Credit Suisse obfuscated a decline in asset inflows at its private-banking unit, possibly misleading buyers of the bank’s stock, the Senate panel said.
Amy Wyss lives in Wilson, Wyoming, graduated from Skidmore College with a bachelor’s degree in history and government, and co-founded a toy store in Taos, New Mexico, according to the 2010 annual report from Synthes, where she served on the board of directors. She’s never appeared on an international wealth ranking.
The billionaire, who’s a citizen of the U.S. and Switzerland, didn’t respond to messages left at her Jackson, Wyoming-based LOR Foundation Inc. Her father didn’t respond to messages left with his assistant, Debbie Davis. Calvin Mitchell, a spokesman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment.
Hansjoerg Wyss received an MBA from Harvard University in 1965. He helped build West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Synthes into the world’s largest maker of bone fracture and trauma treatment devices before selling it to New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson.
Following the deal, Wyss told Credit Suisse, which also advised Swiss stock exchange-listed Synthes during the takeover, that he’d convert the proceeds into cash and securities, the Senate report said. His daughter transferred her money to the bank from Goldman Sachs in the second quarter of 2012.
Credit Suisse counted the funds as new assets under management, a move it only should have made after receiving a signed agreement from the customer, according to several executives interviewed by the subcommittee. The bank classified about 4.3 billion Swiss francs ($4.6 billion) of the family funds as net new assets, raising the total inflow to 5.8 billion Swiss francs for the first quarter of 2012.
At the end of that year, the bank reclassified another 900 million Swiss francs of the Wyss’s money, even though most of it hadn’t been invested, the report says. Rolf Boegli, former chief operating officer of the Swiss private banking operation, said the funds “would be a great favor for our division,” according to an e-mail cited in the Senate report.
Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan called Boegli’s e-mail “disturbing” and “very objectionable,” according to the Senate report. Dougan said the decision to reclassify assets based on a desire to help the appearance of the private banking division’s financial condition didn’t seem to follow the bank’s principles.
Wyss called it “the bank’s problem” in the interview with the Swiss newspaper and said it didn’t concern him.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York and listed in U.S. dollars.