Swiss bank Wegelin to close

CNC report from New York
Added On January 5, 2013

Switzerland's oldest private bank Wegelin is to close after pleading guilty to helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through secret accounts.

The bank, founded in 1741, admitted on Thursday to charges of conspiracy in helping Americans evade taxes at least 1.2 billion U.S. dollars for nearly a decade.

Wegelin also agreed to pay 57.8 million dollars to the United States in restitution and fines.

In a statement from its headquarters, Wegelin said: "Once the matter is finally concluded, Wegelin will cease to operate as a bank."

The bank last year sold the bulk of its business to Swiss co-operative lender Raiffeisen, prompting the effective disappearance of Wegelin.

News of the guilty plea comes as U.S. authorities investigate several Swiss banks for potentially helping Americans seeking to evade taxes.

U.S. attorney for Manhattan called the guilty plea a "watershed moment" in the government's effort to hold banks and individuals accountable for tax evasion.

To date, dozens of bankers and their clients have been charged with conspiring to evade taxes.