* Dutch act after tip-off about 55,000 suspect accounts
* Swiss attorney general 'disconcerted', wants explanation
* UK tax authority looking at bank employees, clients
* Credit Suisse says cooperating with authorities
(Adds Credit Suisse comment on 55,000 suspect accounts)
By Toby Sterling and Joshua Franklin
AMSTERDAM/ZURICH, March 31 Swiss bank Credit
Suisse has been dragged into yet more tax evasion and
money laundering investigations, after a tip-off to Dutch
prosecutors about tens of thousands of suspect accounts
triggered raids in five countries.
Coordinated raids began on Thursday in the Netherlands,
Britain, Germany, France and Australia, the Dutch office for
financial crimes prosecution (FIOD) said on Friday, with two
arrests confirmed so far.
The Dutch are "investigating dozens of people who are
suspected of tax fraud and money laundering", the prosecutors
said, adding that suspects had deposited money in a Swiss bank
without disclosing that to authorities.
British tax authorities said they had opened a criminal
investigation into suspected tax evasion and money laundering by
"a global financial institution" and would be focusing initially
on "senior employees", along with an unspecified number of
Prosecutors in the German city of Cologne said they were
also working with the Dutch. "We have launched an investigation
against clients of a bank," a spokesman said.
None of the authorities disclosed the name of the bank
involved. However, Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-biggest
bank, said local authorities had visited its offices in
Amsterdam, London and Paris "concerning client tax matters" and
it was cooperating.
It said later it had launched an internal probe. "The
investigation will be executed by compliance, it will not be
executed by the business," Iqbal Khan, who is responsible for
Credit Suisse's private banking operations outside Switzerland
and Asia Pacific, told Reuters.
"If any individuals are implicated or have violated against
these processes or procedures or policies that are in place then
we will identify that very quickly."
The Dutch FIOD seized administrative records as well as the
contents of bank accounts, real estate, jewellery, a luxury car,
expensive paintings and a gold bar from houses in four Dutch
towns and cities. The FIOD tweeted a photo of some of the seized
The people arrested, one in The Hague and one in the town of
Hoofddorp, were not identified.
The actions angered Switzerland's Office of the Attorney
General, which said it was "disconcerted" by the way Dutch
authorities had handled the matter and would demand an
Dutch prosecutors responded that Swiss authorities had been
left out of the investigation because none of the suspects were
Swiss -- they were just linked to secret Swiss bank accounts.
"If the Swiss authorities wish to receive information on the
investigation, we, the other countries involved and Eurojust,
are always willing to discuss (that) with them," the FIOD said
in a statement.
Eurojust, the European Union agency that coordinates
cross-border prosecutions, said the investigation had begun in
2016, and representatives from the countries involved --
Switzerland not among them -- had held three preparatory
meetings to share information before Thursday's raids.
Prosecutors "analysed a huge amount of data," Eurojust said,
looking for "individuals and groups suspected of tax fraud and
The investigation uncovered "undeclared assets hidden within
offshore accounts and policies...(worth) millions of euros."
Credit Suisse shares fell 1.2 percent, underperforming the
wider European banking sector index which rose 0.1
percent on Friday.
For Zurich-based Credit Suisse, the case reopens the thorny
issue of tax evasion which has dogged Swiss banks for years as
wealthy individuals around the world have used the country's
strict bank secrecy laws to hide cash from the taxman.
Credit Suisse has paid more than 2 billion Swiss francs ($2
billion) since 2011 in the United States, Germany and Italy to
settle allegations it helped clients dodge taxes. It has pushed
clients in Europe, Latin America and Asia to participate in
government programmes facilitating the declaration of untaxed
The bank said in December this process had been completed
Switzerland is also among the countries that have signed up
to a global initiative led by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development. Under the OECD's Automatic
Exchange of Information, banks pass on information to local tax
agencies, which then share it with foreign counterparts.
Switzerland began collecting data at the start of the year
and will exchange information from 2018.
The Dutch FIOD said the coordinated raids were prompted by a
tip-off about 55,000 suspect accounts, and it had passed
information to the other countries about the accounts.
Spokeswoman Wietske Vissers said the investigation would
"continue for days and weeks" across the various countries. The
Netherlands is investing 3,800 Dutch leads. French authorities
said they had 25 agents working on the case.
Credit Suisse's Khan said the 55,000 was "not a number that
I can reconcile because as of today, in International Wealth
Management in Europe, the total number of accounts is lower than
Australia's minister for revenue and financial services,
Kelly O'Dwyer, said the country's financial crime investigator
was looking at 340 Australians linked to Swiss bank accounts,
which she said were only identified by number.
"The fact that these accounts are unnamed," O’Dwyer said,
"means that by their very nature they are likely to have been
established to hide the identity of the owner."
($1 = 1.0009 Swiss francs)
(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey, Michael Holden and
Oliver Hirt; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Andrew Roche)