Credit Suisse AG has pleaded guilty to helping wealthy Americans avoid paying their taxes through offshore accounts, CNN Money reports. A person familiar with the matter said the European bank has agreed to pay about $2.6 billion in penalties, which will apparently be paid to the Justice Department and to regulators. The penalty resolves a yearslong criminal investigation into allegations that the bank, Switzerland's second-largest, recruited US clients to open Swiss accounts, helped them conceal the accounts from the IRS, and enabled misconduct by bank employees.
The case is part of an Obama administration crackdown on foreign banks believed to be helping US taxpayers hide assets. Attorney General Eric Holder, criticized last year after telling Congress that large banks had become hard to prosecute, appeared to foreshadow the guilty plea in a video message earlier this month in which he said no financial institution was "too big to jail." The criminal case follows a Senate subcommittee investigation that found the bank provided accounts in Switzerland for more than 22,000 US clients totaling $10 billion to $12 billion. (Read more Credit Suisse stories.)