The Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse has pleaded guilty to helping some US clients avoid paying taxes to the US government and agreed to pay a 2.6bn fine. It is the biggest bank to plead guilty to criminal charges in the US in more than 20 years.
US attorney general Eric Holder the bank helped US tax cheats dodge US taxes. Credit Suisse said in a statement it deeply regretted the past misconduct. The bank said the settlement would reduce its second-quarter net profit by 1.6bn Swiss Francs (1.8bn).
However, as part of the agreement with US regulators, the bank will not lose its banking license in the US.
The bank's chief executive, Brady Dougan, said: Having this matter fully resolved is an important step forward for us. We have seen no material impact on our business resulting from the heightened public attention on this issue in the past several weeks.
The bank went to elaborate lengths to shield itself, its employees, and the tax cheats it served from accountability for their criminal actions, said Mr Holder at a press conference.
They subverted disclosure requirements, destroyed bank records, and concealed transactions involving undeclared accounts by limiting withdrawal amounts and using offshore credit and debit cards to repatriate funds.
Mr Holder said the tax evasion schemes went back decades, saying that in one case, the practice of using sham entities began more than 100 years ago.
However, according to US media reports, neither Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner nor chief executive Brady Dougan are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the agreement.
US authorities have already indicted eight Credit Suisse employees who helped clients evade taxes.
Credit Suisse is not alone. US prosecutors are chasing more than a dozen other Swiss banks for allegedly helping wealthy Americans dodge US taxes, and at the press conference, they hinted that there would be more settlements to come.
In 2009, another Swiss bank, UBS, settled similar charges with US regulators for 780m dollars as well as an agreement in which the bank would give US authorities the names of its so-called secret account holders.