Wegelin & Co pays tax evasion fine and closes its doors

Jan 4, 2013

Oldest bank in Switzerland ceases operations after paying $57.8m in restitution and fines

SWITZERLAND'S oldest bank, Wegelin & Co, is to close down after entering a surprise guilty plea to helping US citizens to evade tax, Reuters reports.

Wegelin has been operating for two and a half centuries - since before the American Revolution. Yesterday it admitted to charges of conspiracy in helping Americans evade taxes on at least $1.2 billion for nearly a decade.

The bank agreed to pay $57.8 million to the United States in restitution and fines and later announced that it would cease operating.

When last February Wegelin became the first foreign bank in recent memory to be indicted by US authorities, it vowed to resist the charges. As a result, it was declared a fugitive from justice when its Swiss-based executives failed to appear in a US court.

Indictment is often the death knell for companies: in 2002, accountancy firm Arthur Andersen closed down after being found guilty over its role in the collapse of Enron.

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Makes a good story and fits the Swiss-envy narrative by the UK press doesn't it? Fact is that Wengelin had already been taken over and absorbed into Reifeisen and were essentially just a brand that had already become tarnished and would be removed once all the clients were fully integrated into Reifeisen. Seems there is no journalism these days just copying and pasting and regurgitating the same old crud and what Reuters churns out.