5 countries launch probe aimed at tax evasion


Associated Press

GENEVA

European authorities are investigating dozens of people suspected of tax evasion and money laundering involving Swiss bank Credit Suisse, officials said Friday, with Dutch authorities in particular detaining two people and seizing assets including luxury cars, paintings and even a gold bar in the multi-country sweep.

Credit Suisse issued a brief statement Friday saying that local authorities had made “visits” to its offices in Amsterdam, Paris and London in connection with unspecified client tax issues. A person familiar with the case said it involved Credit Suisse, but bank officials and authorities did not officially confirm a link pending the investigations.

Eurojust, the European Union’s judicial cooperation agency, said authorities in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia took part in an “action day” Thursday against companies and individuals in an operation begun by Dutch prosecutors and tax authorities following a Dutch probe opened last year.

“The undeclared assets hidden within offshore accounts and policies are estimated in the millions of euros,” Eurojust said. It said questioning of witnesses was continuing, that more actions were expected in coming weeks and international cooperation “will be intensified.”

The operations, coming just days before Credit Suisse in April begins a program of automatic information exchange with European countries, will again train a spotlight on the Swiss banking industry, which for years has had a reputation as ensuring secrecy for tax evaders.

Credit Suisse said Friday it is cooperating with authorities.

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