Dec 23 (Reuters) - Four Swiss banks will pay a total of more than $178 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid possible prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes, the department said on Wednesday.
The Justice Department has now reached agreements with 75 Swiss banks under a voluntary program it launched in 2013 to allow Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal charges by disclosing cross-border activities that helped U.S. account holders conceal assets.
In the penalties announced on Wednesday, Basel-based Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG, will pay $85.8 million, the largest share of the total. The sum also includes $78.5 million from Coutts & Co Ltd in Zurich, $11.5 million from Gonet & Cie in Geneva and $2.3 million from Banque Cantonal du Valais in Canton of Valais, Switzerland, the Justice Department said.
Penalties in all 75 settlements total more than $1 billion, the department said. Under the agreements, banks also must provide detailed information on the accounts of U.S. taxpayers under investigation. Banks that were already under criminal investigation were excluded from the program.
Efforts to reach spokespeople for Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG, Gonet & Cie, and Banque Cantonal du Valais, were not successful outside of European business hours on Wednesday.
A Coutts & Co Ltd spokeswoman said, via email, that the bank reached a settlement with the Justice Department “to resolve this legacy matter.” (Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Bill Rigby)