Bank's 'Spy Novel' Tactics Hid US Tax Dodgers' Billions

And Justice Dept. did little to respond, per Senate report on Credit Suisse

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 26, 2014 9:14 AM CST

(Newser) – Swiss bank Credit Suisse helped thousands of Americans keep as much as $12 billion in assets tucked away from the eyes of the IRS, a Senate report out yesterday alleges—and the bank used some unconventional techniques in the process, including once hiding bank statements in a copy of Sports Illustrated. The New York Times details other methods allegedly used by the bank between 2001 and 2008: The report claims it opened accounts for American customers in the name of offshore shell entities; pushed Americans to visit Switzerland to do their banking, with help from a code-named office at the Zurich airport; dodged paper trails by sending staffers to the US; and even operated a remote-control elevator with no buttons in one of its offices. Indeed, senators refer to "cloak-and-dagger schemes that belong in a spy novel," the Guardian notes.

"Financial institutions like Credit Suisse have profited from their offshore tax haven schemes while depriving the US economy of billions of dollars in tax revenues," says John McCain, ranking member of the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, which released the 176-page report. Bank leaders, including CEO Brady Dougan, are due at a hearing today. The bank isn't the report's only target, however: It also slams the Justice Department for doing too little to respond to the issue. The report holds that despite prosecutors' awareness of the issue for four years, no one has faced a trial, the Washington Post notes, and the department did little to push the bank to hand over 22,000 American clients' names. A DOJ rep countered that more than 100 account holders, bankers, and advisers have been hit with charges related to offshore tax evasion since 2009.

In this May 12, 2010 file picture, a man enters a Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland.
In this May 12, 2010 file picture, a man enters a Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland.   (AP Photo/Keystone/Steffen Schmidt,File)
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