The hearing will focus on “the status of efforts to hold Swiss banks and their U.S. clients accountable for unpaid taxes on billions of dollars in hidden assets,” according to a statement by the committee. Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, estimates that offshore tax avoidance costs the U.S. Treasury more than $100 billion a year.
Witnesses will represent an unidentified Swiss bank and the Justice Department, the committee said. Since 2009, the U.S. has charged more than 70 U.S. taxpayers and almost three dozen bankers, lawyers and advisers with using hidden accounts to cheat the Internal Revenue Service. At the same time, the Justice Department hasn’t resolved criminal probes involving Credit Suisse, the second-largest Swiss lender, and other banks.
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“If I were Senator Levin, I’d ask the Justice Department, ‘You did this program with the Swiss and 106 banks signed up for non-prosecution, so will you take that prototype to other countries with a history of unreported bank accounts, such as Israel, India, Singapore and Hong Kong?’” said Lawrence Horn, a tax attorney at Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark, New Jersey.