Credit Suisse in talks to pay $1.6b to resolve US tax probe

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Credit Suisse Group AG is in talks with the US Justice Department to pay as much as $1.6 billion to resolve an investigation into the bank's role in helping Americans evade US taxes, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The penalty could be roughly twice the amount paid by UBS AG, which settled similar charges in 2009 for $780 million and agreed to identify its customers.

Prosecutors have also been pushing for Credit Suisse to plead guilty in connection with the probe, two people with knowledge of the talks said.

The settlement talks are in progress, and the details are still being finalised. An agreement could come in the next few weeks, the sources said.

A spokesman for Credit Suisse declined comment.

Credit Suisse has already set aside 895 million Swiss francs ($1.02 billion) to pay potential penalties to the United States in connection with the matter.

It agreed in February to pay $196 million to resolve a related case from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused the Swiss bank of providing brokerage and advisory services to US clients without registering with the SEC.

Earlier on Monday, the Justice Department posted a video in which Attorney General Eric Holder said close cooperation with regulators was paving the way for criminal actions against financial institutions, although he did not name specific banks.

The Justice Department has come under fire from a congressional committee that has accused the department of not aggressively pursuing Swiss banks that helped Americans dodge taxes, including Credit Suisse.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in February faulted prosecutors for obtaining only a handful of client names from other Swiss banks five years after Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, agreed to provide information.

Since 2009, the Justice Department has charged about three dozen bankers and advisers for their suspected roles in offshore tax evasion. One banker who founded a trust company that worked with Credit Suisse pleaded guilty last week and admitted he helped US clients evade taxes.

($1 = 0.8778 Swiss Francs)

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