Switzerland’s Oldest Bank Is Selling Its Non-US Business After Tax Evasion Charges


[credit provider=”Getty Images/Chris Hondros”]

The oldest private Swiss bank has announced its intentions to sell its non-US assets to fellow Swiss bank Raiffeisen, AFP reports.The 270-year-old Wegelin & Co. is being investigated by U.S. authorities over tax evasion allegations, according to FT. 

Earlier this month, three Wegelin bankers were charged in New York with conspiring to help US clients escape tax payments.

By splitting its businesses, Wegelin is attempting to protect its healthy European operations from the consequences of the U.S. investigation, Reuters reports.

“I never could have imagined that we, as owners of Switzerland’s oldest bank, would ever have considered selling,” said senior managing partner Konrad Hummler. 

Most of Wegelin’s clients and 700 staff will be transferred to Notenstein Private Bank Ltd, which will become a 100 per cent subsidiary of Raiffeisen for an undisclosed sum.

Raiffeisen, Switzerland’s largest retail bank, said the acquisition of the private bank was an “excellent opportunity” to strengthen its position in the wealth management sector. it is not buying any of the Wegelin’s business connected to the U.S., according to The Financial Times.

Wegelin & Co would remain in existence to finalise the closure of U.S. client relationships and continue dialogue with the U.S. authorities. U.S. tax officials have been putting pressure on Swiss banks to release information about clients who are U.S. nationals and who might be evading taxes. The two countries want to come to an agreement on the issue by the end of the year, Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters yesterday in Davos, Businessweek reports.