The United States indicted Wegelin, the oldest Swiss private bank, on charges that it enabled wealthy Americans to evade taxes on at least $1.2 billion (Dh4.4 billion) hidden in offshore bank accounts, the US Justice Department said on Thursday.
The announcement, by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, represents the first time an overseas bank has been indicted by the United States for enabling tax fraud by US taxpayers.
The indictment said the US government had seized more than $16 million from Wegelin's correspondent bank, the Swiss giant UBS AG, in Stamford, Connecticut, via a separate civil forfeiture complaint.
Because Wegelin has no branches outside Switzerland, it used correspondent banking services, a standard industry practice, to handle money for US-based clients.
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UBS could not be reached for immediate comment.