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 customers.
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.
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 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 explanation.
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.
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.