European bank Credit Suisse AG has pleaded guilty to helping wealthy Americans avoid paying taxes through secret offshore accounts and agreed to pay about $2.6 billion.
The Justice Department says it's the largest penalty imposed in any criminal tax case. It is also the largest bank to plead guilty in more than 20 years.
The settlement resolves a lengthy criminal investigation into allegations that Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-largest bank, recruited U.S. clients to open Swiss accounts, helped them conceal the accounts from the Internal Revenue Service and enabled misconduct by bank employees.
Officials say a criminal charge was necessary to account for the bank's pattern of misconduct, which included a lack of cooperation and document destruction. But the deal was structured in such a way as to allow the bank to continue operating.
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