Friday, May 16, 2014

FINE THE BANK; JAIL THE BANKERS & TAX DODGERS

Banks don't commit crimes. It's the bankers that run them who break the laws and take home big pay checks in the process. Yet, with the exception of a few scapegoats to appease the public, their crimes go unpunished as if they are immune from prosecution for some magical reason that has never been explained.

Rob a bank, you go to jail in a heartbeat, but let the bank rob it's customers; oh well.

Credit Suisse is close to reaching an agreement to plead guilty and pay about $2.5 billion to the U.S. Justice Department and regulators to resolve investigations into whether it helped Americans evade taxes, three people familiar with the matter said.

The Zurich-based bank would pay about $1.7 billion to the Justice Department, at least $600 million to the New York Department of Financial Services and $100 million to the Federal Reserve, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The proposed accord could be announced as early as next week, the people said.

“That seems higher than what everybody was anticipating,” said William Sharp, an American tax lawyer who splits his time between Switzerland and the U.S. “It’s mutually beneficial for both the bank and the U.S. government to put this dispute behind them. It’s been dragging on for many years, and frankly could drag on for several more years.” 
The parent company would plead guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, one of the people said. A guilty plea by Credit Suisse’s parent company would be the first by a major global bank in the U.S. in more than two decades. 

The tax dodgers the bank aided and abetted are not even mentioned.

Switzerland’s second largest bank would admit to a statement of facts still being negotiated, and the firm wouldn't have to disclose the names of U.S. account holders, the person said.

The U.S. legal assault seeks to chip away at the promotion of tax evasion through bank secrecy in Switzerland, the world’s largest cross-border financial center with $2.2 trillion in assets.

Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan apologized in testimony to the Senate panel, saying a small group of Swiss-based bankers appear to have broken U.S. laws.

“This was a very small business from our point of view, less than 1 percent of the global profitability of the global bank,” Dougan said at the hearing.

The report detailed the bank’s wooing of wealthy Americans with invitations to the annual Swiss Ball in New York and golf tournaments in Florida and the Bahamas. A branch office at the Zurich airport with the code name “SIOA5” offered banking services to clients passing through on skiing holidays.

Credit Suisse helped clients open accounts under false names and delivered account statements discreetly. One client was given an account statement hidden in a Sports Illustrated magazine. Another client said he was transported to a meeting in an elevator with no buttons that was remotely controlled. He signed orders to destroy account statements afterwards.

Is this a country that is governed under the rule of law or the law breakers?

In February, a Senate subcommittee issued a report and held a hearing that blasted the bank for helping Americans dodge taxes and the Justice Department for not aggressively pursuing the names of account holders through subpoenas and other enforcement tools.

Credit Suisse Close to Guilty Plea, $2.5 Billion Accord With U.S.