5 countries launch tax evasion sweep linked to Credit Suisse

5 countries launch tax evasion sweep linked to Credit Suisse

GENEVA — European authorities are investigating dozens of people suspected of tax evasion and money laundering involving Swiss bank Credit Suisse, officials said Friday, with Dutch authorities in particular detaining two people and seizing assets including luxury cars, paintings and even a gold bar in the multi-country sweep.

Credit Suisse issued a brief statement Friday saying that local authorities had made “visits” to its offices in Amsterdam, Paris and London in connection with unspecified client tax issues. A person familiar with the case said it involved Credit Suisse, but bank officials and authorities did not officially confirm a link pending the investigations.

Eurojust, the European Union’s judicial co-operation agency, said authorities in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia took part in an “action day” Thursday against companies and individuals in an operation begun by Dutch prosecutors and tax authorities following a Dutch probe opened last year.

“The undeclared assets hidden within offshore accounts and policies are estimated in the millions of euros,” Eurojust said. It said questioning of witnesses was continuing, that more actions were expected in coming weeks, and that international co-operation “will be intensified.”

The operations, coming just days before Credit Suisse in April begins a program of automatic information exchange with European countries, will again train a spotlight on the Swiss banking industry, which for years has had a reputation as ensuring secrecy for tax evaders.

The Dutch tax administration said authorities detained two suspects and seized a gold bar, luxury cars, dozens of paintings, real estate, jewelry and bank accounts as well as data from thousands of account holders. The probe involved “the same Swiss bank” in all five countries, it said.

Credit Suisse said Friday it is co-operating with authorities and emphasized its “strategy of full client tax compliance.” Bank officials declined to comment further.

Patrick Teuscher, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Tax Administration, said it had not been contacted by foreign authorities in the case, adding: “We are not involved.”

Switzerland has in recent years changed its rules on banking secrecy for foreigners after a U.S. led effort to crack down on tax cheats uncovered large-scale evasion assisted by Swiss banks.

In December, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said Switzerland had achieved “good results” in fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, but called on it to strengthen compliance controls, boost scrutiny on the use of cash, and share information more with foreign authorities.

“Swiss banks won’t accept untaxed assets, and don’t want to manage them,” said Sindy Schmiegel, a spokeswoman for the main Swiss bankers’ association. Swiss banks in 2018 will start providing data on accounts to tax officials in countries that meet standards set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Dutch tax authorities said new technology, greater international co-operation and the lifting of bank secrecy are making it easier for authorities to find tax evaders and their money. The Dutch and raids were conducted in The Hague, Hoofddorp, Zwolle and Venlo.

France’s national financial prosecutor said raids involving about two dozen French customs agents took place in France as part of the probe begun in April, which turned up thousands of Swiss accounts that were not declared to tax authorities.

British tax authorities, meanwhile, said they launched a criminal investigation into suspected tax evasion that was focused on senior employees of the unspecified financial firm and a number of customers.

“The international reach of this investigation sends a clear message that there is no hiding place for those seeking to evade tax,” Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs said.

Authorities in Australia said they were investigating 346 Australians with links to Swiss banking relationship managers who were alleged to have “promoted and facilitated tax evasion schemes.” Those Australians identified held numbered accounts with a Swiss bank.

“The fact that these accounts are unnamed means that by their very nature they are likely to have been established to hide the identity of the owner,” Australia’s Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, there are still those who believe they can dodge from their tax obligations and avoid detection by government agencies,” she said.

___

Angela Charlton in Paris, Raf Casert in Brussels, and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

Just Posted

Kelowna Fire Department. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Abandonded campfire results in Kelowna bushfire

The fire was measured at 20 feet by 20 feet in size and has been deemed not suspicious in nature

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

sdaf
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Smoke has been showing since earlier in the day

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

Six years after an earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal faces another catastrophy

Most Read