….must have been the cry of French and German tax authorities (in their native tongues of course) as earlier this week they entered the private homes of top UBS officials in Lyons, Bordeaux and Strasbourg; and Credit Suisse customers in Bochum and Dusseldorf in search of evidence of tax evasion facilitation and money-laundering.
Although Switzerland and its banks have negotiated agreements with some of its European neighbours to settle longstanding disputes about tax evasion, France has opted to deal with the problem using investigation and prosecution while the Socialist Democratic Party in Germany which controls the Upper House seems set to scuttle the proposed Swiss-German arrangement.
The raids in France were sanctioned because the revenue authourities believe that UBS officials maintained two separate sets of books one of which tracked undeclared assets and which was hidden from the tax authourities. While the Germans were investigating evasion by Credit Suisse clients who bought a life insurance product sold by the bank’s Bermuda-based life insurance subsidiary and which the bank claims it discontinued in 2009.
Yesterday, a day after the raids which seems not to have been coordinated, Credit Suisse helpfully informed its clients via its website that the focus of the tax authourities has shifted from the bank itself and is now exclusively on its clients.