Credit Suisse, which last week confirmed that it is under investigation by tax authorities in the UK, France and the Netherlands, has launched a European press campaign insisting that it has “zero tolerance” for tax evasion.
The bank followed up adverts in leading British papers on Sunday with a pan-European campaign yesterday that declared: “Credit Suisse applies a strict zero tolerance policy and wishes to conduct business with clients that have paid their taxes and fully declared their assets.” It added that the group complies “with all applicable laws” in areas where it operates.
At the end of last month, authorities in Europe and Australia announced a coordinated tax fraud and money laundering investigation involving hundreds of potential suspects across five countries.
Over the weekend, Credit Suisse’s head of international wealth management, Iqbal Khan, told the Bloomberg news agency that he understood the investigation was focused on the bank’s clients. He said that he was surprised by the timing of the probe since Credit Suisse had “taken a proactive stance” against tax evasion in Europe.
However, the claim was at odds with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in the UK, which stated that “senior employees” of a global financial institution were under investigation.
Credit Suisse has confirmed that local authorities searched its offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam last Thursday and it is cooperating with the probe.
The latest investigation is a setback for Credit Suisse’s chief executive officer (CEO), Tidjane Thiam, who is overseeing its attempts to recover from various legacy issues and trading losses. In January, the group agreed a US$5.3bn penalty with the US Department of Justice to settle an investigation into its involvement in selling toxic mortgage debt before the 2008 financial crisis. Deutsche Bank agreed a US$7.2bn settlement with the DoJ to resolve similar litigation.
ExxonMobil is legally challenging a $2m fine from the US Treasury for allegedly violating sanctions against Russia in 2014 while US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was still overseeing the company.
Morgan Stanley is moving staff to Frankfurt in time for the March 2019 Brexit deadline.
The US bank, which already has 350 employees based in the city, will transfer some trading activities currently undertaken in London and create a further 150 to 250 jobs according to reports.
BNP Paribas is the latest in a long line of financial service companies to be penalised for misconduct during the financial crisis on both sides of the Atlantic.