Legal

US Accuses Julius Baer Of Helping Over 400 Citizens To Hide Undeclared Money - Report

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London, 9 January 2014

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US prosecutors are accusing Julius Baer of helping more than 400 US citizens conceal undeclared money from the taxman, according to a ruling made public by a Swiss court.

US prosecutors are accusing Julius Baer of helping more than 400 US citizens conceal undeclared money from the taxman, according to a ruling made public by a Swiss court, Reuters reported.

The 34-page ruling, which paraphrased an IRS request for judicial aid and did not provide supporting documents, was reported by the news service to be the fullest public picture so far of the case against Julius Baer, one of a dozen of Swiss banks that are being probed by US authorities about tax evasion.

Julius Baer declined to comment on the ruling, the report said. This publication is in contact with the Zurich-listed bank, which had not responded at the time of going to press.

According to the Swiss ruling, US tax authorities alleged at least 400 Americans hid more than $600 million from the IRS. Julius Baer private bankers used "codenames and numbers", as well as "travelling account statements", to conceal the identity of the account owners, the court document stated.

The report said the bank also advised US citizens to use "sham corporate entities" to hide their money and ensured that bank correspondence wouldn't be sent to them in the US to avoid detection, the court said, citing the IRS judicial aid request.

Julius Baer told clients they were safe from IRS checks because the Swiss bank didn't have a US office, unlike larger rivals such as UBS, according to the court documents, the report said.

 Julius Baer has in the past said it is cooperating with US authorities, is eager to settle, and that it has handed over documents and other material illustrating its business in the US. Like UBS and a number of other banks, it no longer provides offshore banking services to US clients.

In August last year, the US and Swiss governments signed an agreement paving a way for a programme under which Swiss banks can sign up to draw a line under their affairs and choose to state what “category” of bank they are, ranging from those that accept they have committed wrongdoings, and will bear a penalty, to those who say they have not violated any laws. A number of Swiss banks, such as Lombard Odier and Vontobel, have already signed the programme.

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