Geneva – December 6, 2023
In a groundbreaking development, BanquePictet&Cie, Co, a private Swiss bank, has agreed to pay a substantial sum of $122.9 million in back taxes and penalties following admissions that it facilitated U.S. citizens in concealing billions of dollars in assets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from 2008 to 2014.
Court filings and statements from the Justice Department reveal that Banque Pictet aided a cohort of American taxpayers in hiding a staggering $5.6 billion, orchestrating this effort across 1,637 Swiss bank accounts. This concealed income resulted in tax savings of $50.6 million for the clients over the specified six-year period.
The payment to the government encompasses the owed taxes from the bank’s clients, the fees generated by the undeclared accounts, and an additional $39 million in penalties. “Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg” highlighted in a Justice Department press release, “Banque Pictet et Cie admitted to actively helping U.S. taxpayers use coded accounts, foreign trusts and entities, nominee beneficiaries, and other deceits to conceal their income and assets abroad.”
The concealed funds were traced to the 1,637 Swiss bank accounts held by Banque Pictet, a notable wealth and asset management firm under the umbrella of the Pictet Group, a financial services company boasting $691 billion in assets as of June 30.
As part of the resolution, the firm has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, committing to full cooperation with ongoing government investigations. This cooperation extends to potential civil or criminal inquiries into individuals whose assets were clandestinely safeguarded by the bank.
This case underscores the global efforts to combat offshore tax evasion and signals a landmark moment in holding financial institutions accountable for their roles in facilitating such practices. The agreement reached with Banque Pictet sets a precedent for increased scrutiny on banks involved in aiding clients in evading taxes and reinforces the commitment to transparency in the financial sector. The repercussions of this settlement may resonate far beyond the confines of Swiss banking, prompting a reevaluation of practices within the broader international financial landscape.