On May 15, 2015, Finter Bank Zurich AG (Finter Bank) became the third Swiss bank to sign a Non-Prosecution Agreement with US DOJ according to the terms of the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks.
DOJ Program for Swiss Banks
On August 29, 2013, the DOJ announced the creation of the “The Program for Non-Prosecution Agreements or Non-Target Letters for Swiss Banks (Program)” with the goal or creating a voluntary disclosure program for Swiss banks. Under the Program, the Swiss banks would prove DOJ with detailed description of specified activities with respect to US-owned accounts as well as the identification of all accounts held by US persons at any point since August of 2008. In exchange, the Program promised Swiss banks an opportunity to forever resolve their past US non-compliance issues (including criminal illegal activities) with respect to US-held accounts. For Category 2 banks, the Program also imposed various penalty requirements. The banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.
Finter Bank timely entered the Program and payed the required penalties. This is why it became the third Swiss bank to resolve its issues under the Program.
Finter Bank Background
Finter Bank was founded in 1958 in Chiasso, Switzerland, and has a branch office in Lugano, Switzerland. Since August 1, 2008, Finter Bank has maintained 283 U.S.-related accounts with an aggregate maximum balance of approximately $235 million.
Since its establishment and continuing through at least October 2011, Finter Bank, through its managers, employees and others, aided and assisted U.S. clients in opening and maintaining undeclared accounts in Switzerland and concealing the assets and income they held in these accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After August 2008, when Swiss bank UBS AG publicly announced that it was the target of a criminal investigation by U.S. tax authorities, Finter Bank accepted accounts from U.S. persons exiting other Swiss banks.
Finter Bank provided services that allowed U.S. clients to eliminate the paper trail associated with the undeclared assets and income, including “hold mail” services and numbered and coded accounts. In addition, Finter Bank assisted clients in using sham entities as nominee beneficial owners of undeclared accounts, solicited Forms W-8BEN that falsely stated under penalties of perjury that the sham entities beneficially owned the assets in the undeclared accounts, and provided cash cards and credits cards linked to the undeclared accounts.
Finter Bank Non-Prosecution Agreement
According to the terms of the non-prosecution agreement signed on May 15, Finter Bank agreed to cooperate in any related criminal or civil proceedings, demonstrate its implementation of controls to stop misconduct involving undeclared U.S. accounts and pay a $5.414 million penalty in return for the department’s agreement not to prosecute Finter Bank for tax-related criminal offenses.
Consequences of Finter Bank Non-Prosecution Agreement for US Taxpayers
In resolving its criminal liabilities under the program, Finter Bank encouraged U.S. accountholders to come into tax compliance and participate in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. However, the taxpayers who did not listen to Finter Bank’s pleas and have not disclosed their secret Swiss accounts now face an importance consequence as a result of Finter Bank Non-Prosecution Agreement – if these taxpayers wish to enter the OVDP now, the penalty percentage has increased from 27.5 percent to 50% of the highest balance of their accounts for the past eight years.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Disclosure of Your Foreign Bank Accounts
If you have undisclosed foreign bank accounts and any other assets, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. Our legal team consists of tax professionals who specialize in offshore voluntary disclosures and have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world.