European authorities launch probe into fund hidden in Swiss bank

Credit Suisse

European financial authorities have launched a probe into funds that were hidden from tax authorities in accounts at a Swiss bank, Dutch prosecutors said on Friday in Zurich.

It also announced the seizure of paintings, gold and jewellery.

While they did not name the bank, Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said that its offices in Amsterdam, London and Paris had been searched on Thursday as part of investigations into clients’ tax matters.

The prosecutors said that in the Netherlands, dozens of people are suspected of having concealed many millions of euros, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service said in The Hague.

It said that homes of clients and the bank’s offices were searched in the Netherlands as well as in Germany, Britain, France and Australia.

The Dutch prosecutors said that they had acquired information about thousands of account holders.

“We are cooperating with authorities,” Credit Suisse said in a statement from Zurich.

The bank stressed that it has been complying with Dutch, French and British tax rules, and that it has severed its ties with clients who do not pay their taxes.

“Dutch fiscal investigators arrested two suspects.

“They seized “administrative records as well as the contents of bank accounts, immovable properties, and jewellery, an expensive car, expensive paintings and a gold bar,” prosecutors said.

Britain’s tax authority said it had launched a tax-evasion and money-laundering probe against an international financial institution, some of its senior employees and a number of its customers.

“The international reach of this investigation sends a clear message that there is no hiding place for those seeking to evade tax,” Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs said.

France’s financial prosecution office said that about 25 customs investigators had carried out searches and questioned people across the country as part of an internationally coordinated investigation.

“The probe had revealed “several thousand” bank accounts opened in Switzerland and not declared to French tax authorities.

“In the next few weeks, more operations will be carried out,” the Dutch prosecutor’s office said without naming any financial institution.

However, the office of the Swiss Attorney General criticised the fact that other countries had made a conscious decision not to inform Switzerland about the probe.

(dpa/NAN)

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