Senate Report: Credit Suisse Bank Helped Americans Evade Taxes

The bank's CEO appeared before a Senate panel Wednesday to testify about secret Swiss bank accounts opened by U.S. citizens. At its peak, some 22,000 Americans had accounts at the bank.

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Top officials of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse told a Senate hearing today that they're committed to unearthing tax evasion by U.S. citizens. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report yesterday that the bank was deeply involved with helping Americans hide their money in secret accounts.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: The report yesterday said that at one point, 22,000 Americans had opened accounts at Credit Suisse. And the vast majority were never declared to the IRS. The bank's CEO, Brady Dougan - himself a U.S. citizen - said this morning that Credit Suisse is now fully committed to a culture of compliance with U.S. law. He said it had encouraged U.S. customers to obey the law. But he also conceded that some bank employees continued to facilitate tax evasion in recent years.

BRADY DOUGAN: Credit Suisse's management team regrets very deeply that despite the industry-leading compliance measures we put in place, we had some Swiss-based, private bankers who appear to have violated U.S. law.

ZARROLI: Dougan and other bank officials were grilled by the senators. Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, who heads the subcommittee, said the bank was hiding behind Swiss banking laws, which have made it much tougher to acquire the names of account holders. He also faulted Justice Department officials, saying they have been slow to pursue tax evasion, even when given the names of bank customers. And he said they have ceded control of the prosecution to Swiss courts. Two department officials will testify before the subcommittee later today.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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