International Financial Law Prof Blog

Editor: William Byrnes
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Justice Department Announces Addendum to Swiss Bank Program Category 2 Non-Prosecution Agreement with Banque Bonhôte & Cie SA

Bank to Pay Additional $1.2 Million to U.S. for Non-Disclosed Accounts: Download Addendum

The Department of Justice announced today that it has signed an Addendum to a non-prosecution agreement with Banque Bonhôte & Cie SA, Ltd. (Bonhôte) of Neuchâtel Switzerland.  The original non-prosecution agreement was signed on Nov. 3, 2015.  At that time, Bonhôte reported that it held and managed 63 U.S. Related Accounts, with assets under management exceeding $88 million, and paid a penalty of $624,000. In reaching today’s agreement, Bonhôte acknowledges it should have disclosed additional U.S.-related accounts to the Department at the time of the signing of the non-prosecution agreement.

The Swiss Bank Program, announced on Aug. 29, 2013, provided a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the United States relating to offshore banking services provided to United States taxpayers. Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the Department that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts. As participants in the program, they were required to make a complete disclosure of their cross-border activities, provide detailed information on an account-by-account basis for accounts in which U.S. taxpayers had a direct or indirect interest, cooperate in treaty requests for account information, and provide detailed information about the transfer of funds into and out of U.S.-related accounts, including undeclared accounts, that identifies the sending and receiving banks involved in the transactions.

The Department executed non-prosecution agreements with 80 banks between March 2015 and January 2016.  The Department imposed a total of more than $1.36 billion in Swiss Bank Program penalties.  Pursuant to today’s agreement, Bonhôte will pay an additional sum of $1,200,000 and will provide supplemental information regarding its U.S.-related account population, which now includes eight additional accounts with assets under management of approximately $33 million. 

Every bank that signed a non-prosecution agreement in the Swiss Bank Program represented that it had disclosed all known U.S.-related accounts that were open at each bank between Aug. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2014.  Each bank also represented that during the term of each non-prosecution agreement it would continue to disclose all material information relating to its U.S.-related accounts. Other than the failure to disclose the additional eight U.S.-related accounts, Bonhôte has otherwise fully cooperated with the Department with respect to the bank’s obligations under the non-prosecution agreement and with the additional U.S.-related accounts.  

“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 E. Zuckerman, head of the Tax Division.  “We expect banks to fully cooperate with the Department and continue to provide information about U.S. offshore accounts.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman thanked Senior Counsel for International Tax Matters and Coordinator of the Swiss Bank Program Thomas J. Sawyer, Senior Litigation Counsel Nanette L. Davis, and Trial Attorney Kimberle E. Dodd of the Tax Division.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/intfinlaw/2019/07/justice-department-announces-addendum-to-swiss-bank-program-category-2-non-prosecution-agreement-with-banque-bonh%C3%B4te-cie-s.html

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