Source: FoNet | Saturday, 05.01.2013.| 16:06
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Switzerland's oldest Swiss bank to close

Switzerland's oldest bank is to close permanently after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping Americans evade their taxes.

Wegelin, which was established in 1741, has also agreed to pay $57.8m (£36m; 44m euros) in fines to US authorities.

It said that once this was completed, it "will cease to operate as a bank".

The bank had admitted to allowing more than 100 American citizens to hide $1.2bn from the Internal Revenue Service for almost 10 years.

Wegelin, based in the small Swiss town of St Gallen, started in business 35 years before the US declaration of independence.

It becomes the first foreign bank to plead guilty to tax evasion charges in the US, BBC reports.

Other Swiss banks have in recent years moved to prevent US citizens from opening offshore accounts.

Wegelin as an institution was itself indicted by US authorities in February last year, and later declared a fugitive from justice when the bank's executives failed to appear in a US court.

The bank had vowed to fight the charges, claiming that because it only had branches in Switzerland, it was bound only by its home country's relaxed banking laws.

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