The Justice Department has reached final agreements with Swiss banks in deals that will help the financial institutions avoid potential criminal liabilities over U.S. tax crimes, the department announced Thursday.
The Swiss Bank Program, announced in 2013, allowed banks who believed they had committed tax crimes to be eligible for non-prosecution agreements if they met certain requirements, such as paying penalties and providing detailed information about accounts associated with U.S. taxpayers. It also allowed Swiss banks that could establish that they hadn't committed tax or monetary-transaction related crimes to receive non-target letters from DOJ.
“The completion of the resolutions with the banks that participated in the Swiss Bank Program is a landmark achievement in the department’s ongoing efforts to combat offshore tax evasion,” said Caroline Ciraolo, principal deputy assistant attorney general, in a news release. “We are now in the legacy phase of the program, in which the participating banks are cooperating, and will continue to cooperate, in all related civil and criminal proceedings and investigations."
Between March 2015 and January 2016, DOJ executed non-prosecution agreements with 80 Swiss banks that told the department that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related offenses. The banks paid a total of more than $1.3 billion in penalties, DOJ said.
Between July and December of 2016, four Swiss banks and one cooperative that had not engaged in wrongdoing became eligible for non-target letters from DOJ.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that the Swiss Bank Program “has uncovered those who help facilitate evasion schemes and those who hide funds in secret offshore accounts; improved our ability to return tax dollars to the United States; and allowed us to pursue investigations into banks and individuals."