(Bloomberg News) Two Julius Baer Group Ltd. client advisors were charged with helping more than 180 U.S. clients of the Zurich-based bank evade taxes, according to an indictment and a person with knowledge of the matter.
Daniela Casadei and Fabio Frazzetto conspired with more than 180 U.S. clients and others at the bank to hide at least $600 million in assets from the Internal Revenue Service, according to the indictment in federal court in New York and the person, who wasn't authorized to speak about the matter. The indictment refers to the bank as Swiss Bank No. 1.
"The bank is one of a number of Swiss financial institutions supporting the ongoing tax negotiations between the U.S. and Switzerland and is cooperating with the U.S. government investigation," Baer said in an e-mailed statement today.
Baer, the Alpine country's fifth-biggest wealth manager, said it can't comment on the indictments or the U.S. government investigation. Casadei and Frazzetto weren't available for comment through a call to the bank, and Martin Somogyi, a Baer spokesman, declined to put Bloomberg in touch with either.
"This has generally been expected," said Dirk Becker, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets in Frankfurt with a "hold" rating on the stock. "Julius Baer needs to find a way out of this."
The charges come amid a U.S. crackdown that includes grand jury investigations of eight foreign banks. Prosecutors have filed tax charges against three dozen former U.S. clients of UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland's two biggest banks, and London-based HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's biggest bank. At least 21 bankers, advisers and attorneys also have been charged.
"First we saw UBS, then we saw Credit Suisse, then we saw HSBC, now we have Julius Baer," said Jeffrey Neiman, a former federal prosecutor who practices law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The new indictment cites 15 clients, without identifying them, who allegedly used Casadei or Frazzetto to hide their accounts. About 30,000 U.S. taxpayers have avoided prosecution since 2009 by voluntarily disclosing offshore accounts to the IRS. The Justice Department has interviewed many of them in building new criminal cases.
'Breadth of Information'
"This is another example of the breadth of information obtained by the IRS and the Department of Justice through the voluntary disclosure program," Neiman said.
Switzerland hopes to submit the results of talks with the U.S. to lawmakers in the "foreseeable future," Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said in an interview in the Swiss capital Bern last week.