U.S. Indicts Three Credit Suisse Bankers

Jul 27, 2011   

Last Thursday, Federal prosecutors filed charges against Markus Walder, Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, Andrea Bachmann, and Josef Dörig for conspiring with other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States. The superseding indictment implicates the three Credit Suisse bankers and Swiss trust founder along with four other defendants who were charged February 23, 2011. Although the indictment refers to an “International Bank” and not Credit Suisse, details of the information point directly to the Swiss banking giant. The new charges mount pressure on offshore bankers and taxpayers alike as the U.S. toughens its stance on foreign banks that help Americans evade their taxes.

Credit Suisses managers and bankers are charged with engaging in illegal cross-border banking activities that were designed to help U.S. customers evade their income taxes by opening and maintaining secret bank accounts. Furthermore, the defendants allegedly utilized a representative office in New York City to provide unlicensed and unregistered banking services to U.S. customers with undeclared accounts. The defendants and others allegedly made false statements and provided misleading information to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and to the IRS to conceal Credit Suisses cross-border banking business.

Specifically, the superseding indictment alleges the following:

  • Markus Walder, former head of North America Offshore banking and former senior Credit Suisse official, supervised the cross-border banking business;
  • Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, former Credit Suisse manager, provided unlicensed and unregistered banking services to U.S. customers with undeclared accounts at the bank;
  • Andrea Bachmann, former banker at a subsidiary of Credit Suisse, traveled to the United States to assist taxpayers in evading their U.S. taxes through the use of secret bank accounts; and
  • Josef Dörig, founder of the Swiss trust Dorig AG, was a preferred provider of Credit Suisse who assisted U.S. customers in forming and maintaining nominee tax haven entities and opening secret accounts at the bank and its subsidiaries in the names of the entities.

According to a Department of Justice press release ,

The defendants and their co-conspirators [allegedly] caused U.S. customers to travel outside the United States to conduct banking related to their secret accounts; opened secret accounts in the names of nominee tax haven entities for U.S. customers; accepted IRS forms that falsely stated under penalties of perjury that the owners of the secret accounts were not subject to U.S. taxation; advised and caused United States customers to structure withdrawals from their secret accounts in amounts less than $10,000 in an attempt to conceal the secret accounts and the transactions from American authorities; mailed bank checks in amounts less than $10,000 to customers in the United States; and advised U.S. customers to utilize offshore charge, credit and debit cards linked to their secret accounts and provided the customers with such cards, including cards issued by American Express, Visa and Maestro.

The superseding indictment charges that as of 2008, the Swiss bank held thousands of secret accounts for U.S. customers. Of the 35 clients cited, one “secretly transported approximately $250,000 cash from the United States to Switzerland by concealing the money underneath [her] clothes in pantyhose wrapped around [her] body.”

Last Thursdays indictments bring the total number of indicted Credit Suisse bankers to seven. The charges signal that U.S. investigations of hidden offshore accounts remain in full force, and that any taxpayers with undisclosed accounts should strongly consider taking part in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative before the August 31, 2011 deadline.

The attorneys at Fuerst Ittleman have the experience to guide you through any voluntary disclosure or Bank Secrecy Act compliance matter. Contact an attorney today at contact@fidjlaw.com.