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US Tax crackdown sees three more bankers charged

Three bankers in Switzerland have been charged with conspiring to help US clients hide more than $1.2 billion from American tax authorities.

The bankers helped Americans open dozens of accounts and hide them from the IRS after a US crackdown on offshore tax evasion led clients to flee bigger Swiss banks in 2008 and 2009, according to a new indictment.

The bank concerned no longer has US clients, and is negotiating with US authorities and the indictment doesn’t name the bank.

The indictment signals a broadening crackdown by US prosecutors, who filed tax charges against more than three dozen US clients of UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s two biggest banks, and London-based HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank. They have also charged at least 24 bankers, advisers and attorneys, including seven Credit Suisse bankers.

The indictment comes amid US-Swiss talks to resolve a US probe of offshore tax evasion. Officials seek to reach a civil settlement with Swiss banks and resolve criminal probes of 11 of them.

US prosecutors charged UBS in 2009 with helping Americans hide assets from the IRS. UBS avoided prosecution by admitting it aided tax evasion, paying $780 million and handing over data on 250 accounts. It later disclosed another 4,450 accounts, causing US customers to seek new banks. As those clients fled UBS and another large Swiss bank, the indicted bankers wooed them.

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