[NEW YORK] A Deutsche Bank AG unit will pay more than US$31 million to the US Justice Department to avoid possible prosecution for helping Americans to evade taxes, the department said on Tuesday.
Deutsche Bank's Swiss unit offered a number of services and permitted some practices that it knew could, and did, assist US taxpayers in concealing assets and income from the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department said. "Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA fully cooperated with the Department of Justice and is pleased to have reached an agreement that resolves this Swiss affiliate's legacy tax-related issues under the Swiss Bank Programme," the company said in a statement.
The bank settled under a voluntary programme the Justice Department launched in 2013 to allow Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal charges by disclosing cross-border activities that helped US account holders conceal assets.
Under the programme, banks also must provide detailed information on the accounts of US taxpayers under investigation. Banks that were already under criminal investigation were excluded from the programme.
Practices that Deutsche Bank Suisse engaged in included holding mail that Deutsche would otherwise send to clients who lived in the United States, the Justice Department said. US-based account holders could also use Deutsche Bank-issued credit cards and instruct Deutsche Bank Suisse bank employees to pay the balance from accounts at the unit.
The conduct occurred between August 2008 through August 2013.
Deutsche Bank Suisse had 1,072 US-related accounts since August 2008 with a total value of about US$7.7 billion, the Justice Department said.
Deutsche Bank entered an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service in 2001 that required the bank to get account holders' permission to disclose their identities to the agency.
But Deutsche continued to service customers without disclosing their identities to the IRS "and without regard for the impact of US criminal law on that decision," the Justice Department said.
The Justice Department, in recent months, has announced a spate of other settlements under its Swiss programme. On Nov 19, BNP Paribas' Swiss unit agreed in a settlement with the Justice Department to pay US$59.8 million.