Tax evasion Dutch lead global raid on Credit Suisse

Switzerland's financial centre has seen many tax evasion probes in recent years

(Keystone)

Swiss bank Credit Suisse is at the centre of a major Dutch-led investigation into suspected tax evasion, also involving Britain, Germany, France and Australia. Gold bars, paintings, cash, real estate and other assets, worth several million francs, have been seized.

The Dutch authorities said they had received a tip-off relating to 55,000 accounts at an unnamed bank. But Credit Suisse on Friday confirmed that its offices in several countries had been “contacted” by local authorities and that it was cooperating with investigations.

Australian authorities said they had identified 340 individuals with connections to Swiss banking staff who had actively facilitated tax evasion schemes. The bank in question was not named.

"The first phase of the investigation, which will see further, targeted, activity over the coming weeks, is focused on senior employees from within the institution, along with a number of its customers," the British tax authority said in a statement.

Dutch investigators said they had arrested two people and are following 3,800 suspect accounts.

Swiss shunned

Meanwhile, the Swiss Attorney General’s office expressed concern that it had been left out of the loop in the investigation.

“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is disconcerted about the manner in which this has been organised with the conscious non-inclusion of Switzerland,” it said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “The attorney general expects a written explanation from the relevant leading Dutch authorities and is examining further actions.”

Dutch authorities said on Friday that they had left Swiss authorities out of a tax fraud investigation stemming from secret Swiss bank accounts because no Swiss citizens were suspects, Reuters reported.

It is not yet known whether other Swiss banks have been caught up in the operation. The Dutch investigation is ongoing, as it is in other countries.

More reactions

The European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit, Eurojust, which exists to coordinate investigation and prosecution proceedings among member states, stated that the Dutch probe began last year.

"Eurojust held three coordination meetings, attended by participants from the involved States, to share information and devise a strategy for the action day," read a press release.

"More actions are expected in the coming weeks. International cooperation will be intensified, and the roles that possible service providers have played will be examined."

Credit Suisse said later on Friday that it had launched an internal probe. "The investigation will be executed by compliance, it will not be executed by the business," Iqbal Khan, who is responsible for Credit Suisse's private banking operations outside Switzerland and Asia Pacific, told Reuters.

"If any individuals are implicated or have violated against these processes or procedures or policies that are in place then we will identify that very quickly."

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