On 3 January 2012 three Swiss bankers working for
Switzerland's oldest bank, Wegelin & Company, were charged
with tax evasion by US prosecutors in Manhattan. The bankers are
accused of helping US clients to evade US taxes through secret
Swiss bank accounts. The three bankers allegedly solicited clients
between 2005 and 2010 by using sham companies in Liechtenstein,
Panama and Hong Kong. An amount exceeding USD 1.2 million is said
to be involved. According to the three bankers, their clients did
not need to worry about the US tax authorities because Wegelin
& Company had a long tradition of bank secrecy and no offices
outside Switzerland. If they are convicted, the Swiss bankers each
face a maximum prison term of five years and fines up to USD
The US tax authorities have previously pursued tax-evading
Americans in Switzerland and the bankers who have assisted in
evasion schemes. Whereas these cases involved large banks, the
recent charge against Wegelin & Company shows that smaller
financial institutions in Switzerland are being scrutinised as
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