Monday, 28 May 2012

Credit Suisse says Americas boss to step down

A logo is seen in front of a Credit Suisse building in Zurich, May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

ZURICH | Fri May 11, 2012 1:39pm EDT

(Reuters) - Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) on Friday said its Americas head Antonio Quintella would leave the Swiss bank's management board at the end of the month and move to Sao Paulo as chairman of its Hedging-Griffo unit.

In his new role, Quintella will report to his successor, Robert Shafir - who adds the Americas head role to his current one as head of Credit Suisse's asset-management unit - and to overall private banking head Hans-Ulrich Meister.

Shafir was Credit Suisse's top earner last year, with 8.5 million francs for running the asset management arm, which posted a 10 percent rise in pretax profit on the year.

The move is the second big change in top management following the exit of information technology chief Karl Landert two weeks ago.

Credit Suisse acquired a majority stake in Brazil-based asset manager Hedging-Griffo in 2007.

Quintella's new job as chairman of the unit - in private banking and asset management often largely a symbolic role - is something of a change of pace from 2010, when the bank paid him 15.6 million Swiss francs after promoting him in a management shake-up.

"As the former CEO of Brazil and CEO of Credit Suisse Americas, Antonio Quintella is ideally qualified to further develop Credit Suisse's wealth management business and to deliver the integrated bank to clients in one of our most dynamic growth markets," the bank said in a statement.

A Credit Suisse spokesman didn't comment when asked whether the management moves were linked to an ongoing U.S. investigation into 11 Swiss banks including Credit Suisse suspected of helping wealthy Americans dodge taxes through hidden offshore accounts in Switzerland.

A global crackdown on tax evasion by cash-strapped governments in recent years has chipped away at Switzerland's tradition of banking secrecy, which helped it build up a $2 trillion offshore wealth management industry.

Switzerland wants the investigations dropped, in exchange for payment of fines and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S. bank clients. It also wants a deal to shield the remainder of its 300 or so banks from U.S. prosecution.

(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Will Waterman)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Swiss bank Wegelin served with U.S. charges

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wegelin & Co, the oldest Swiss private bank, is digging in its heels against a U.S. criminal charge that it conspired to help wealthy Americans evade taxes.

At a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday, a federal prosecutor said Swiss police on May 2 had hand delivered a court summons and a copy of the indictment to Wegelin executive Konrad Hummler.

The bank is now seeking to contest the summons in Swiss courts, prosecutor Daniel Levy said.

The indictment of Wegelin, which was founded in 1741, was the first in which the United States accused a foreign bank, rather than individuals, of helping Americans commit tax fraud.

Wegelin was accused of helping clients hide more than $1.2 billion in offshore bank accounts. The case is part of a U.S. crackdown on alleged tax fraud, including efforts to pierce the tradition of Swiss bank secrecy.

Wegelin was not in court on Wednesday, nor did it appear at the first hearing in the case in February.

A spokeswoman for Wegelin could not immediately be reached for comment.

At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Jed Rakoff conceded that it is "rather hard to arrest a corporation" but asked why U.S. prosecutors had not sought a warrant to arrest individual Wegelin partners.

There is "some reason to believe the Swiss authorities would not execute the warrant," Levy responded, but said he would continue to consider that as a possible option. No Wegelin partner has been charged, Levy said.

The case is U.S. v. Wegelin & Co et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cr-00002.

(Reporting By Basil Katz; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)