House Dems welcome closer look at Credit Suisse waiver

House Democrats hailed an administration decision to more closely review whether Credit Suisse is qualified to continue managing pension funds after pleading guilty to tax evasion.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, said the Labor Department was right to discuss whether the Swiss bank should be granted a waiver to continue overseeing pension funds following the guilty plea, after she and colleagues raised questions about its continued role as an adviser.

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“This is an important step forward to ensure the Department of Labor is truly not just a ‘rubber stamp’ in granting these waivers,” she said in a statement.

In October, Waters was joined by Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) in calling for a hearing to review Credit Suisse’s standing as a professional U.S. financial adviser.

Current law stipulates that if an institution or individual pleads guilty to a financial crime, it is disqualified from providing such advice. But the government has routinely given waivers to large institutions to allow them to continue on in that role following some criminal misstep. According to the Democrats, the Labor Department had signed off on all 23 waivers requested since 1997.

The Labor Department announced Friday it would hold a public hearing in January to review whether Credit Suisse should be granted a waiver to continue overseeing many pension funds and individual retirement accounts. The agency gave the bank a temporary exemption to continue doing such work while the review continued to “avert possible disruptions in retirement plan investments.”

The Labor Department also announced Friday that it had proposed a waiver for Credit Suisse, but that no decisions would be finalized until after the public has had its say at the Jan. 15 hearing.

After intense scrutiny from some lawmakers, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty in May to helping U.S. citizens evade taxes, making it the largest bank in the last two decades to do so.