Founded in 1741, Wegelin pleaded guilty in court to helping wealthy Americans hide their income in secret offshore accounts
... Switzerland's oldest bank is to close after pleading guilty to helping some of the US'srichest people evade paying taxes on at least $1.2bn (£750m) which was hidden in secret offshore accounts.
Wegelin, which was founded in 1741, said it would "cease to operate as a bank" after it admitted it had allowed 100 US taxpayers to hide their money.
The bank agreed to pay $57.8m in fines and restitution to the US authorities after admitting to conspiracy charges related to helping US taxpayers living overseas evade payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for almost a decade.
Otto Bruderer, a managing partner of the bank, told a New York court: "Wegelin was aware that this conduct was wrong ... From about 2002 through to about 2010, Wegelin agreed with certain US taxpayers to evade the US tax obligations of these US taxpayer clients, who filed false tax returns with the IRS." ...
... US prosecutor Preet Bharara said Wegelin became a haven for US tax evaders by hiding their money in secret offshore accounts.
Bharara, who was described as the man "busting Wall Street" on the cover of Time magazine, said Wegelin "wilfully and aggressively jumped in to fill the void that was left when other Swiss banks abandoned the practice due to pressure from US law enforcement".
He said Wegelin's closure and guilty plea was a watershed moment in US efforts to crack down on individuals and banks "engaging in unlawful conduct that deprives the US treasury of billions of dollars of tax revenue".
"There is no excuse for wealthy Americans flouting their responsibilities as citizens of this great country to pay their taxes, and there is no excuse for foreign financial institutions helping them to do so," he said. ...
... US authorities are investigating similar allegations about at least 11 other banks, including Credit Suisse. ...