Julius Baer Group Ltd, Switzerland’s third-largest wealth manager, said it expects to pay about $547 million to settle a U.S. investigation into how it helped Americans evade taxes, clearing the way for other Swiss banks to resolve similar criminal probes.

The bank reached an agreement in principle with the U.S. Justice Department, Julius Baer said in a statement on Wednesday, as it earmarked another $197 million beyond the $350 million it set aside in June to resolve the probe. The Zurich- based company expects to conclude the agreement of the four-year investigation in the first quarter.

Chief Executive Officer Boris Collardi had said he wanted to resolve the U.S. probe by the end of 2015. Uncertainty around the Justice Department investigation has hampered the company’s ability to make deals, invest in renewing outdated information- technology platforms and even return capital to shareholders. Julius Baer said in July it planned to outline a new capital- management plan in early 2016.

“Knowing the final amount gives us more clarity on Julius Baer’s excess capital and potential for acquisitions,” said Jonas Floriani, a London-based analyst at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods with an outperform rating on the shares. “Reaching an agreement should be taken as a positive, even though the amount is higher than the original provision.”

Julius Baer rose as much as 4.4 percent in Zurich. The shares were up 1.8 percent as of 12:43 p.m., bringing the gain for this year to almost 4 percent compared with a 3.5 percent decline in the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index.


‘Comprehensive Resolution’


The bank reached a “comprehensive resolution regarding its legacy U.S. cross-border business” with prosecutors working for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, according to the statement. In 2011, Bharara’s office indicted two Julius Baer bankers, accusing them of conspiring 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.

The accord still needs final approval from the Justice Department, and it will be filed with “related resolution documents” with a federal judge in New York, according to the statement.

The announcement came as the Justice Department concludes a disclosure program in which 75 Swiss banks have avoided prosecutions this year by paying more than $1 billion and disclosing how they helped U.S. clients cheat the Internal Revenue Service. Lawyers defending banks have said the Justice Department wouldn’t resume prosecutions of Swiss banks until it completed the program.

About a dozen Swiss banks have been under U.S. criminal investigation since Switzerland’s largest lender, UBS Group AG, settled with the U.S. UBS agreed in 2009 to pay $780 million, while Credit Suisse Group AG, the No. 2 Swiss bank, paid $2.6 billion in 2014. Both admitted they helped Americans cheat the IRS.

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