Germans quiz Credit Suisse clients on tax

City A.M. Reporter
German authorities have asked around 1,500 German clients of Credit Suisse to provide evidence as part of a probe into whether Switzerland’s second-largest bank helped them dodge taxes.

The chief prosecutor’s office in the western city of Dusseldorf said in a statement yesterday it had written to them to ask why they had deposited their money with the Swiss bank.

“The target of the survey is the explanation of the circumstances under which the investments with Credit Suisse came about,” the prosecutors said in a statement. “It should also be determined who participated in the engagements from the bank’s side.”
A spokesman for Credit Suisse declined to comment.

German tax authorities had passed on names of the Credit Suisse clients after they turned themselves in for not paying their taxes in full, the prosecutors said. The clients had to respond to the questionnaire as they were contacted as witnesses, the prosecutors said.

Searches of Credit Suisse’s private banking offices in Germany last month netted huge amounts of data and more than 100 boxes of material after tax authorities obtained a compact disc with names of alleged tax dodgers this year.

That was the latest episode in an international crackdown on suspected tax cheats in offshore centres. Last year, Swiss wealth manager UBS agreed to a hefty settlement after a bitter US tax probe.

The Dusseldorf prosecutor’s office sent the Credit Suisse clients 24 questions, including whether there had been any discussion that the funds would not be taxed, whether a courier service transferred funds and whether the possibility of opening two accounts – with one for untaxed wealth – had been addressed.