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Credit Suisse pays $234 million to settle French tax probe



(Reuters) — Credit Suisse agreed to pay France 238 million euros ($234 million) to settle a tax fraud and money laundering case on Monday, putting another legal headache behind it as it prepares a strategic overhaul.

The deal resolves an investigation in France into whether the Swiss bank, which is trying to recover from losses and scandals, helped clients avoid paying taxes on their wealth.

The alleged scheme, which prosecutors have said took place in several countries between 2005 and 2012, caused “fiscal damage” of more than 100 million euros to the French state, prosecutors said.

The bank said in a statement: “The settlement does not include an admission of criminal liability. The bank is pleased to resolve this matter, which marks another important step in the proactive resolution of litigation and legacy issues.”

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Credit Suisse will need to make a small increase in provisions set aside for the case, a source close to the matter said, adding that the difference will be reported in third-quarter earnings.

Credit Suisse’s lawyers declined to answer questions about the settlement in court, with one saying the deal was the best way to “turn the page.”

Credit Suisse shares fell slightly after news of the settlement. They recovered to trade 1.4% higher at 0915 GMT.

Credit Suisse, one of Switzerland’s systemically important banks, is scheduled to release details of its strategic review along with third-quarter results on October 27.

The bank has appeared more willing to resolve legal issues under new legal chief Markus Diethelm, who took office in July and has taken a more proactive approach than his predecessor.

This month it agreed to pay $495 million to settle allegations that it mis-sold U.S. mortgage-backed securities, the latest payout related to past mistakes that have damaged the bank’s reputation.

In June, the bank was convicted of failing to prevent money laundering by a Bulgarian cocaine-trafficking gang, while a court in Bermuda ruled that a former Georgian prime minister and his family should have received more than $600 million in damages from Credit Suisse’s life insurance arm, which the bank is appealing.

A similar case is ongoing in Singapore.

The US Justice Department is also reportedly investigating whether Credit Suisse continued to help US clients hide assets from authorities, eight years after the Swiss bank paid a $2.6 billion tax evasion settlement.


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