NEW YORK (MainStreet) The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced August 29 that it will "encourage" Swiss banks to cooperate with its tax evasion investigations. Part of the encouragement comes in the form of a joint statement with the Swiss Federal Department of Finance, stating the mountain nation - known for its clocks, neutrality and the tendency of its banks not to ask too many questions about depositor's money - will cooperate with DOJ.
Banks that aided tax evaders - and are currently not under criminal investigation - will be slammed with significant penalties, and they must make complete disclosure of their cross-border activities and provide detailed information on an account-by-account basis for accounts in which U.S. taxpayers have a direct or indirect interest.
"This program will significantly enhance the Justice Department's ongoing efforts to aggressively pursue those who attempt to evade the law by hiding their assets outside of the United States," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "In addition to strengthening our partnership with the Swiss government, the program's requirement that Swiss banks provide detailed account information will improve our ability to bring tax dollars back to the U.S. treasury from across the globe."
These banks will also be required to:
- Cooperate in treaty requests for account information
- Provide detailed information as to other banks that transferred funds into secret accounts or that accepted funds when secret accounts were closed
- Agree to close accounts of account holders who fail to come into compliance with U.S. reporting obligations
The program is sort of a get-out-jail-free card for the banks. If they do everything required they will not be prosecuted.