Swiss Bank Von Graffenried Reaches Deal in U.S. Tax Probe

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Swiss private bank Von Graffenried Holding AG agreed to pay $287,000 to resolve a probe into claims it helped American taxpayers hide assets from authorities, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The Bern-based bank is the 15th to reach an accord with the U.S. over tax evasion under a framework for Swiss banks implemented by the Justice Department in 2013.

Under the framework, Swiss banks can escape charges by providing details about their cross-border business and information about accounts associated with U.S. taxpayers. More than 100 firms have entered the program.

Since August 2008, Bern-based Von Graffenried held a total of 58 U.S.-related accounts with about $459 million in assets, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

The U.S. said Von Graffenried allowed U.S. taxpayers to keep undeclared accounts and offered a variety of traditional Swiss bank services that could help customers hide funds from the Internal Revenue Service, such as identifying clients in account records by numbers instead of names.

Von Graffenried also took in two European account holders in 2008 and 2009 who were seeking to avoid disclosing U.S. tax obligations, and who had left other Swiss banks that were under investigation by the U.S., according to the Justice Department.

A representative for the bank who didn’t provide his name declined to comment on the Justice Department announcement.