23 Jul 2019
Banque Bonhôte & Cie SA, Ltd. (Bonhôte) of Switzerland will pay an additional $1.2 million to American authorities after acknowledging that it under-reported its US-linked accounts in a 2015 non-prosecution deal reached under the Swiss Bank Program.
The latest monetary penalty adds to the $624,000 previously paid by the Swiss private bank for maintaining accounts tied to suspected US tax dodgers and other American clients, the Justice Department said Friday. Bonhôte admitted in 2015 to managing 63 such accounts but failed to disclose another eight, according to the department.
Including the additional accounts, Bonhôte maintained approximately $121 million in assets for American taxpayers suspected of potentially using Swiss bank secrecy laws to evade their tax obligations. The institution has otherwise fully cooperated with the 2015 agreement under terms set out for “Category 2” banks participating in the Swiss Bank Program, the Justice Department said.
First announced in August 2013, the landmark program between American and Swiss authorities forced banks in Switzerland to take the then-unprecedented step of turning over data on cross-border transactions and domestic account activity related to US-linked clients, or else face potential criminal liabilities.
Under the Swiss Bank Program, the Justice Department has reached non-prosecution deals with 80 banks between March 2015 and January 2016, and has imposed more than $1.36 billion in monetary penalties, according to a statement.
“The Department of Justice continues to examine the information provided by Swiss banks to the department and will continue to work closely with our partners at the Internal Revenue Service to ensure that American taxpayers are meeting their reporting and tax obligations with respect to foreign bank accounts,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Zuckerman, in the statement.
Neuchâtel-based Bonhôte has been in operation since 1815 and has branches in Bern, Bienne, Geneva and Lausanne, according to its website.
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