WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Treasury fails to raise billions of dollars because Americans exploit protections bank accounts in Switzerland and the federal government has not taken strong enough measures against the second largest bank in the country, determined a Senate investigation.
More than 22,000 Americans have accounts with Credit Suisse in Switzerland, totaling between 10,000 and 12,000 million, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate. The federal government has received only 238 names of Americans with secret accounts at Credit Suisse, equivalent to 1% of the estimated total, the study concluded.
Credit Suisse sought U.S. clients to open accounts in Switzerland between 2001 and 2008, and then helped hide accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and allowed its employees do wrong things, said the subcommittee.
For five years, the Senate panel has investigated the use of bank secrecy laws Swiss financial institutions to allow Americans evade the IRS. The report in question is focused on Credit Suisse, which shed no immediate comment on the document.
Responding to the report, the Justice Department said in a statement it is investigating 14 Swiss financial institutions “and will not hesitate to file charges when circumstances warrant.” The statement did not identify the banks involved.
The subcommittee noted that the Swiss government, famous for its banking secrecy laws, has continued to hamper the ability of U.S. authorities to identify the names of Americans with accounts at present and in the past.
But Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the subcommittee, said in a press conference Tuesday that the Justice Department did not use the legal tools at their disposal to require the identification of U.S. accounts for the largest Swiss bank, UBS. He added that the Justice Department requested these identities on the basis of treaties, which depend on the Swiss courts and do not work.
“It’s time to tax on the billions of dollars that have offshore evaders,” Levin said.