Credit Suisse Faces Belgian Probe Over Hidden Accounts

Credit Suisse Group AG faces a criminal probe amid suspicions it helped more than 2,600 clients to hide money in Swiss accounts, Belgian prosecutors said.

Investigators are looking for evidence of money laundering and whether the Swiss lender acted as an illegal financial intermediary, Eric Van Duyse, a spokesman for Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor’s office, said Monday, confirming comments by an official cited by L’Echo newspaper over the weekend.

He said the probe is at the fact-gathering stage and that it’s not certain that it will result in formal charges.

Prosecutors obtained the bank details of Belgian clients with Credit Suisse accounts between 2003 and 2014, Van Duyse confirmed. Authorities received account data from French authorities last year, he added.

Credit Suisse “applies a strict zero-tolerance policy and wishes to conduct business with clients who have paid their taxes and fully declared their assets,” the lender said in an Aug. 22 emailed statement. “We strictly comply with all the applicable laws, rules and regulations in the markets in which we operate.”

Swiss banks have been caught up in global tax crackdowns over the past decade as the country’s tradition of banking secrecy came under siege. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed UBS Group AG’s appeal of a conviction and record 4.5 billion-euro ($5.3 billion) penalty for helping wealthy French clients stash undeclared funds in offshore accounts.

— With assistance by Hugo Miller, and Patrick Winters

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