I had not heard about this at all before, so this post is heavily borrowed from the BBC article in question discussing the closure and winding down of operations of Wegelin & Co, a Swiss Bank operating solely in Switzerland but providing services, apparently of an illicit nature, to American citizens.
Switzerland's oldest bank is to close permanently after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping Americans evade their taxes.[note from Auron - "Inland" is likely an error because the UK's tax agency was referred to as "Inland Revenue" before being transferred to HM Revenue and Customs department. The rest of the article makes clear that the charges relate to US citizens and no other UK ties are mentioned.]
It said that once this was completed, it "will cease to operate as a bank".
The bank had admitted to allowing more than 100 American citizens to hide $1.2bn from the Inland Revenue Service for almost 10 years.
Follow me below the stylized orange-flavored Swiss franc for slight analysis.
The bank actually has no branches in the US at all, making it a potentially difficult target for criminal charges in the US, but the charges were pursued by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, widely regarded as the most prominent of all US Attorney postings, second only to Main Justice (and often carrying out the will of Main Justice).
The more interesting thing is that, despite the scope of this, particularly the fact that the plea and sentence effectively closed the place down, it's not getting coverage in the US media. The money shot? Jeffrey Neiman, who used to work for the US Attorney's office:
"What is clear is that the Justice Department is aggressively pursuing foreign banks who have helped Americans commit overseas tax evasion."So, yes, the government is going after the big banks. And between charges like this and the US aggressively seeking Swiss banks' client lists, it seems like the days of "Swiss bank account" being a common term may be coming to an end.
10:04 PM PT: Hey folks - sorry for not tending, I've had an exhausting week and basically clocked out. I've tried to respond to comments as I can and I did update with the name of the bank (d'oh!) but I do need to head out :(.
But, first time on reclist, woohoo! Thank you so much :).
Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 4:05 AM PT: As I write this, the story is receiving US coverage - NPR this morning (4:05am West Coast) did a story about Wegelin.