Swiss bankers called to testify on tax evasion

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has called in a group of Swiss bankers as part of his long-running investigations into offshore tax evasion.

The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Levin, announced Monday that several top executives from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse would be on hand Wednesday to testify.

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Among those slated to answer questions are Brady Dougan, the bank’s CEO, and Romeo Cerutti, the bank’s general counsel based in Zurich, Switzerland. Top tax enforcement officials from the Justice Department will also testify.

Levin, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, has fought for years to stop the use of offshore bank accounts to dodge taxes.

The Obama administration has taken up the cause as well, and is pushing back against secretive Swiss banks that are accused of protecting the holdings of wealthy clients.

The U.S. filed charges in 2009 against the Swiss bank UBS for helping thousands of clients evade taxes, which resulted in a settlement where UBS agreed to pay $780 million. And in a follow-up suit, the U.S. government pushed the Swiss government to agree to authorize the release of client data from long-secret accounts of suspected tax cheats.

Levin has long criticized companies that reorganized their accounts to minimize their U.S. tax bill, and Wednesday’s hearing will be the latest in a number of hearings on the matter.

The hearing comes just days after G20 officials agreed to new rules meant to streamline the sharing of tax information with nations across the globe to tackle evasion efforts.

Furthermore, the Treasury Department just released last week what is expected to be the final package of rules implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a 2010 law aimed at helping the U.S. obtain information about overseas accounts held by citizens.