Credit Suisse pays 238 million to avoid a lawsuit in France

After HSBC, it is now Credit Suisse which has agreed to pay a heavy fine in order to settle the accounts of years of illegal activities on French soil. The second Swiss bank will have to pay 238 million euros to avoid criminal prosecution for canvassing customers in France and aggravated laundering of tax fraud between 2005 and 2012, according to an agreement validated Monday, October 24 by the president of the Paris court .

By agreeing to sign a legal agreement in the public interest (CJIP) concluded with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), Credit Suisse thus avoids a trial. He will have to pay 115 million euros in damages to settle his dispute with the tax authorities. He will also have to pay a fine of 123 million euros claimed by the public prosecutor.

Before Credit Suisse, HSBC Private Bank, a Swiss subsidiary of British banking giant HSBC, had already agreed to pay 300 million euros to escape a trial in France for laundering tax fraud on November 14, 2017. This was the very first judicial convention of public interest signed in France.

5,000 customers, 2 billion euros in assets

The financial prosecutor’s investigation into Credit Suisse began in 2016 after receiving reports. Investigations revealed that 5,000 French clients had had a Credit Suisse account for many years, which had not been declared to the French tax authorities. The hidden assets amounted to 2 billion euros, recalled the president of the court Stéphane Noël.

“Credit Suisse did not send any account statements. The canvassing did not respect French legislation, the sales representatives traveled to France, in complete discretion. They were identifying prospects” with some “visits to hotels, restaurants, never to the official premises of the French establishment”he added.

The PNF calculated the fine taking into account the “raising factors”to know “the systemic nature, a long period, the creation of tools to conceal”detailed prosecutor François-Xavier Dulin. “The bank has created offshore structures to help its customers in their desire not to declare certain assets to the French administration”he pointed out.

Payment in three installments

The PNF also took into account the factors “minors” what are the “corrective measures taken by the bank, the cooperation of the bank”. The bank has twelve months to pay these sums, in three instalments. “It’s a historical page, the vestige of an old era that the bank comes to settle”insisted during the hearing the bank’s lawyer, Charles-Henri Boeringer.

In a press release, Credit Suisse recalled that this public interest judicial agreement did not include an admission of guilt and marked “an important step in proactive resolution” litigation.

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