Swiss Bank BSI SA to pay $211 million to settle DOJ charges for helping clients evade US taxes

Swiss bank BSI SA will pay $211 million to settle charges it secretly helped American clients evade U.S. taxes, the Department of Justice said. The private bank is the first to admit responsibility under a federal program that encourages overseas banks to disclose their role in undeclared offshore accounts held by wealthy U.S. citizens.

In addition to payment of the $211 million, the bank has agreed to provide detailed information on an account-by-account basis for every account it has in which a U.S. taxpayer has a direct or indirect interest.

Additionally, the bank will explain how its cross-border business for U.S.-related accounts operated, provided the name and function of those involved in the operation and turned over the total number of accounts and aggregate maximum value they held as of August 2008 and afterward.

U.S. tax laws require taxpayers to disclose overseas accounts and the assets and income they contain to the IRS. Despite the law, a 2008 Senate report estimated that offshore tax evasion costs the U.S. Treasury at least $100 billion annually. Some believe that number may be significantly greater.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.