One of Switzerland’s largest banks, Credit Suisse, has pled guilty to helping US citizens hide money. The banking institution must now pay a steep fine, but will still be able to operate in the US.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) fined Credit Suisse $2.6 billion (1.598 Swiss francs, 1.9 billion euros) after it pled guilty to a felony charge of aiding tax evaders on Monday. The verdict was met with praise by US Attorney General Eric Holder, who said that banks should expect the DOJ to respond with full legal force "as has happened here."
"This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law," Holder said. "A company's profitability or market share can never and will never be used as a shield from prosecution or penalty."
The Swiss bank, the country's second largest institute, admitted to intentionally having helped roughly 22,000 US clients conceal their money abroad illegally. According to an investigation by a committee of the US Senate, between $10 billion and $12 billion had been hidden from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In a statement issued after the ruling, Credit Suisse said that its operations would continue to run normally.
"We deeply regret the past misconduct that led to this settlement," its CEO, Brady Dougan, added in the statement.
The fine levied on Credit Suisse includes payments to the IRS, the DOJ and the New York State Department of Financial Services, the US state where the Swiss bank is primarily licensed.
kms/crh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)