Julius Baer pays $547m to settle tax evasion case in US

Pedro Gonçalves
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Julius Baer pays $547m to settle tax evasion case in US

Swiss private bank Julius Baer has closed a 2016 deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US Department of Justice over helping Americans evade taxes.

The settlement comes as the private bank is caught up in a South American money laundering scandal. 

The DPA, signed in February 2016, involved the bank's legacy cross-border private banking business in the US. Specifically, the bank was accused of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, file false income tax returns and dodge federal income taxes.

This important step confirms Julius Baer's approach to cooperating constructively with competent authorities and our commitment to fulfill our regulatory obligations and responsibilities"

Under the agreement, the bank was required to pay an amount of $547.25m and abide by certain terms for the next three years. The bank admitted to the wrongdoings and agreed to cooperate with the authorities.

"This important step confirms Julius Baer's approach to cooperating constructively with competent authorities and our commitment to fulfill our regulatory obligations and responsibilities," chief executive Bernhard Hodler said in a statement. He was head of risk for the period during which the US and other scandals occurred before becoming CEO 14 months ago.

At the same time, the bank's ex-staff Daniela Casadei and Fabio Frazezetto pleaded guilty to aiding tax evasion in the US.

Julius Baer was also under scrutiny following the indictment of its former employee Matthias Krull in a $1.2bn money laundering case.

The case was associated with Petroleos de Venezuela, a Venezuelan state-owned oil firm. However, the bank itself was not charged of misconduct.

Julius Baer said  that the ensuing clean-up and an invasive extra layer of client checks will cost the bank nearly $90m. It has retreated from Venezuela and is rethinking its ambitions for South America under Beatriz Sanchez, a former Goldman Sachs banker.