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Swiss bank pays up to settle German tax evasion probe

Some Germans appear to have used Migros Bank to hide assets from their home tax authorities. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Switzerland’s Migros Bank has agreed to pay €2.4 million (CHF2.65 million) to clear up cross-border tax evasion issues with Germany.

Migros is one of several Swiss banks that have shelled out a penalty to avoid prosecution in the neighbouring country. Other banks to have made such an arrangement in the past include UBS, Credit Suisse and Julius Bär.

The Migros Bank settlement also protects its employees from prosecution, it was announced on Monday.

In recent years, the Swiss banking sector has come under the microscope of several countries that have uncovered citizens hiding money in Swiss accounts to avoid paying taxes.

Investigations in Germany were helped by the illicit sale of stolen Swiss bank data to several German states.

Banks have generally avoided criminal prosecution by settling complaints out of court. In the United States, the Swiss government was forced to intervene to set up a large scale out-of-court settlement program between the Department of Justice and several Swiss banks.

Despite efforts to clear the slate of the Swiss banking sector, tax evasion investigations are still ongoing in some countries. UBS is awaiting a court verdict in France later this year, having appealed against a €4.5 billion tax evasion penalty imposed on the bank in 2019.

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