SWISS bank Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to charges of assisting tax evasion yesterday, when US authorities brought the lender to court over the allegations.
The bank will pay $2.6bn (£1.55bn) in varied penalties – the largest monetary charge in any tax case ever, according to the US Department of Justice.
In court documents, the US case held that the bank assisted clients with “sham entities” to avoid taxes, failing to maintain and destroying account records related to the charges. Some of the issues mentioned date back to as far as 1988.
Credit Suisse’s admission of guilt is the first for a major bank in a quarter of a century, since Drexel Burnham Lambert was convicted of six felonies in the late 1980s.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the charges were a “major step forward” and should dispel the myth that large banks were functionally immune to such prosecution due to their status as market heavyweights.
The group had made a provision of $600m for the case, revealed in its most recent financial results, but the eventual fine far outstrips that.