Swiss Banque Pictet pays $123 mln for helping clients evade US taxes



NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Swiss private bank Banque Pictet has admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers hide more than $5.6 billion from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

According to prosecutors, U.S. taxpayers with Pictet accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere evaded about $50.6 million in taxes between 2008 and 2014. As part of the agreement, Banque Pictet agreed to pay $122.9 million to the U.S. Treasury.

“This case should provide a clear message to others who try to hide their assets and income offshore,” Jim Lee, the chief of the IRS’ criminal investigation division, said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, Pictet, which oversees 632 billion Swiss francs ($724 billion) in client assets, will implement remedial measures and cooperate with the authorities’ investigation. If it complies for three years, U.S. prosecutors will move to dismiss charges of conspiring to defraud the IRS.

“Pictet is pleased to have resolved this matter and will continue to take steps to ensure its clients meet their tax obligations,” the bank said in a statement.

U.S. authorities have long accused Swiss banks of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes, and Pictet signalled it had been in contact with the U.S. for more than a decade.

Credit Suisse in 2014 agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine for helping Americans evade taxes in a conspiracy that spanned decades. The bank has since been taken over by former rival UBS.

In 2016, two former Julius Baer bankers pleaded guilty to helping American clients dodge taxes, and the bank agreed to pay $547 million to resolve the criminal case.

Prosecutors said that while Pictet adopted some measures to ensure U.S. clients complied with the law, it helped some customers hide funds from the IRS in offshore accounts.

The bank’s disgorgement of funds includes $52 million in fees that Pictet earned from the undeclared accounts, $32 million in unpaid taxes, and a $39 million penalty, prosecutors said.

The agreement comes as Renaud de Planta, senior partner at Pictet since 2019, prepares to step down from the helm to be succeeded by Marc Pictet from July 1.



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Edmund Shing, PhD

Global Chief Investment Officer
BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Edmund has over 29 years of experience in financial markets in a wide variety of positions, ranging from proprietary trading to portfolio manager in a number of financial institutions in London and Paris.  He previously held the role of Global Head of Equity and Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas in London from 2015 to 2020, and has been Chief Investment Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management since November 2020.

Edmund is responsible for piloting our investment strategy and will continues to rollout out recommendations and themes with actionable advice that brings our expertise to our clients and support to our client-facing teams.  In this time of change, his expertise in following and anticipating markets is a true value added for both our customers and those at Wealth Management who serve them.

Edmund has a PhD in Cognitive and Computing Science from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and has done advanced studies in Knowledge-Based Systems and in Experimental Psychology.  He is an EFFAS-certified financial analyst. He has also authored the book “The Idle Investor” published by Harriman House in 2015, proposing 3 simple investment strategies that take only a few minutes to execute per month.

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