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Scott Michel Comments on Possible U.S. Indictment of Swiss Bank Credit Suisse on Tax Evasion Charges

July 15, 2011, Reuters
Excerpt taken from article.

U.S. authorities are considering indicting Swiss bank Credit Suisse over its role in providing offshore private banking services that enabled scores of wealthy Americans to evade taxes, according to current and former senior government sources briefed on the matter.

The possibility, according to these persons, emerged after the bank disclosed on Friday that it is the target of a criminal investigation by U.S. federal authorities over its offshore banking activities.

Credit Suisse said in a statement from its Zurich headquarters that it had "received a letter notifying it that it is a target" of a U.S. Justice Department investigation concerning "historical private banking services provided on a cross-border basis to U.S. persons."

Target letters, according to the United States Attorneys' Manual, are sent by U.S. authorities to institutions or persons for whom prosecutors have "substantial evidence" of having committed a federal crime.

The letters appear only after months or more of investigation and signal that the authorities have convened a grand jury in the matter, a serious level of scrutiny.

Scott Michel, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C., who is also the firm's president, said that in general, "the issuance of a target letter almost always results in an indictment."

But Michel, who has represented numerous clients and banks in the broad probe by the Justice Department, though not Credit Suisse, said he thought that Credit Suisse "would enter into negotiations with the government to try to reach a disposition of the case" in the form of a deferred-prosecution agreement.

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