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Julius Baer bankers busted for hiding $600 million

Client advisers charged with helping U.S. customers dupe the IRS

So much for supposedly being neutral … scores of Swiss bankers are seemingly getting caught by the long arm of the American law lately for helping enterprising U.S. citizens cheat on their taxes.

The latest such instance is a pair of Julius Baer Group Ltd. client advisers, Daniela Casadei and Fabio Frazzetto, who were charged with helping American customers evade taxes. Reports indicate the advisers conspired with more than 180 U.S. clients and others at the bank to hide about $600 million in assets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

“The bank is one of a number of Swiss financial institutions supporting the ongoing tax negotiations between the U.S. and Switzerland and is cooperating with the U.S. government investigation,” Baer wrote in a statement today.

The news comes just a few short weeks after news broke that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) targeted eight offshore banks, including UBS AG (which is under more-public scrutiny for alleged fraud) and Credit Suisse Group AG, in a federal grand jury investigation for potentially facilitating tax evasion by U.S. citizens.

In 2009, federal prosecutors charged UBS with helping American clients to evade their taxes. UBS admitted it fostered tax evasion, and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ. Under the terms of the agreement, UBS paid $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution and turned over data on nearly 5,000 accounts to the IRS.

“This enforcement effort has dealt fabled Swiss bank secrecy a devastating blow and provided tools that should yield information on thousands of additional U.S. offshore account holders who have undisclosed accounts at UBS and other banks,” the DOJ said on its website. “Moreover, the publicity surrounding the Tax Division's enforcement action and the subsequent settlement has already produced dramatic behavior changes.”

For more on Julius Baer, read Bloomberg.

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