HSBC, Credit Suisse Sacrifice Employees to U.S., Lawyers Say
Swiss banks are turning over thousands of employee names to U.S. authorities as they seek leniency for their alleged role in helping American clients evade taxes, according to lawyers representing banking staff.
At least five banks supplied e-mails and telephone records containing as many as 10,000 names to the U.S. Department of Justice, according to estimates by Douglas Hornung, a Geneva- based lawyer representing 40 current and former employees of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA)’s Swiss unit, Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER) The data handover is illegal, said Alec Reymond, a former president of the Geneva Bar Association, who is representing two Credit Suisse staff.
“The banks are burning their own people to try and cut deals with the DoJ,” said Hornung. “This violation of personal privacy is unprecedented in the Swiss banking industry.”
Swiss banks want to settle a U.S. tax-evasion probe after the DoJ indicted Wegelin & Co. on Feb. 2 for allegedly helping customers hide money from the Internal Revenue Service. Credit Suisse, HSBC and Julius Baer, which have said they expect to pay fines to resolve the tax matter, are handing over data to mollify the U.S., according to Hornung.