Of Special Interest

3rd February 2012

US Prosecutors charge Wegelin with assisting tax evasion

US prosecutors have charged Wegelin & Co, the Swiss private banks with assisting in tax evasion by US citizens. It is the first Swiss bank to be directly charged. In past cases it was specific individuals that were charged. The filing claims that the bank assisted more than 100 US Citizens to evade tax by placing the money in offshore accounts and the total sum involved was more than $1.2bn.

Unlike the previous Swiss targets Wegelin is an unlimited liability partnership. Wegelin recently agreed to be acquired by the Swiss Raiffeisen group. The acquisition will not effect the liability of the partners in relation to these events. It also follows that the partners will not be able to pay for the a similar size of legal team as will be ranged against them. The US authorities have seized $16m of Wegelin assets in the US. The filing claims these activities carried on until 2011 and that after the confrontation between the US and UBS representatives from Wegelin solicited those US citizens who had closed their UBS accounts suggesting that the money could be kept secret by Wegelin.