Print Article

“BANQUE PICTET” to be fined $122.9 million for hiding $5.6> billion in 1,637 Swiss bank accounts.



  • Swiss private banking group Pictet entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the US DoJ on tax evasion charges, having alleged helped multiple US taxpayers hide over $5.6 billion in 1,637 secret bank accounts in Switzerland and thereby avoid collectively paying $50.6 million in taxes owed to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • The group agreed to pay $122.9 million in restitution, disgorgement of fees and a financial penalty.
  • The total to-be-paid breaks down as follows: $52,164,201 amounting to" gross fees (not profits) that the bank earned on its undeclared accounts between 2008 and 2014"; $31,844,192 "in restitution to the IRS, which represents the unpaid taxes resulting from BANQUE PICTET’s participation in the conspiracy"; and a $38,950,998 penalty.
  • BANQUE PICTET entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) and agreed to pay approximately $122.9 million to the U.S. Treasury.

Today’s resolution is one of a series of cases brought by the Department of Justice in connection with its investigations since 2008 into facilitation of offshore U.S. tax evasion by foreign banks.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:

  • “As it has admitted today, Banque Pictet knowingly conspired to conceal from the IRS the income generated by accounts which held more than $5.6 billion.
  • Banque Pictet has agreed to pay more than $122.9 million and will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice.
  • Rooting out financial malfeasance remains a priority for this Office, and we encourage companies and financial institutions to come to us to report wrongdoing before we come to you.”

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg said:

  • “Today, Banque Pictet et Cie admitted to actively helping U.S. taxpayers use coded accounts, foreign trusts and entities, nominee beneficiaries and other deceits to conceal their income and assets abroad.
  • For this criminal conduct the bank will be paying nearly $122.9 million in restitution, disgorgement of fees and a financial penalty, and is required to fully cooperate with investigations relating to these secret accounts.”

IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee said:

  • “This case should provide a clear message to others who try to hide their assets and income offshore.  Our special agents are experts in following the money, and they are the best at uncovering schemes that try to defraud the U.S. tax system.  Offshore tax evasion is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation, and today’s deferred prosecution agreement with Bank Pictet collects more than $120 million owed to the U.S. government.”

According to documents filed today in Manhattan federal court:

  • The Pictet Group was founded in 1805 and is a privately held Swiss financial institution headquartered in Geneva that has historically operated as a general partnership and, since 2014, as a corporate partnership.
  • A limited number of managing partners, generally eight or fewer, collectively known as “The Salon,” own and manage the Pictet Group.

The Pictet Group operates two main business divisions: institutional asset management and private banking for individuals.

As of December 31, 2014, the Pictet Group had approximately 3,800 employees in various locations, primarily in Switzerland, but also in Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Bahamas.

From 2008 to 2014, the Pictet Group’s private banking division was operated by the group’s following banking entities:

  • The Swiss bank (BANQUE PICTET & CIE SA);
  • Pictet & Cie (Europe) SA, headquartered in Luxembourg;
  • Bank Pictet & Cie (Asia) Ltd. in Singapore; and
  • The Bahamian bank, Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd.

The Pictet Group provided offshore corporation and trust formation and administration services to certain U.S. taxpayers, first through the Estate Planning and Trust Services unit and later through a wholly owned subsidiary called

  • Rhone Trust and Fiduciary Services SA (Rhone).

As of December 31, 2014, the Pictet Group’s private banking division managed or held custody of approximately $165 billion in assets under management (“AUM”).

From 2008 to 2014, the Pictet Group served approximately 3,736 private accounts that had U.S. taxpayers as beneficial owners, whose aggregate maximum AUM, including declared assets, was approximately $20 billion.

Though the Pictet Group adopted early measures to confirm that U.S. clients complied with U.S. law, from 2008 through 2014, the Pictet Group assisted certain U.S. taxpayer-clients with Pictet Group accounts in evading their U.S. tax obligations and otherwise hiding undeclared accounts[1] from the IRS.

In total, from 2008 through 2014, the Pictet Group held 1,637 U.S. Penalty Accounts,[2] with aggregate maximum AUM of approximately $5.6 billion in January 2008, on behalf of U.S. taxpayer-clients, who collectively evaded approximately $50.6 million in U.S. taxes.

The Pictet Group assisted U.S. taxpayer-clients with evading their U.S. taxes by opening and maintaining undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayer-clients at the Pictet Group, either directly or through external asset managers.  The Pictet Group also maintained accounts of certain U.S. taxpayer-clients within the Pictet Group in a manner that allowed the U.S. taxpayer-clients to further conceal their undeclared accounts from the IRS.

The Pictet Group and certain of its employees knew or should have known that some of their U.S. taxpayer-clients were evading U.S. taxes.

In every instance, managing partners approved the opening of new private client relationships and were informed of the closing of U.S. taxpayer-clients’ accounts, which included some undeclared accounts.

As further detailed below, the Pictet Group used a variety of means to assist U.S. taxpayer-clients in concealing their undeclared accounts, including by:

  • Forming or administering offshore entities in whose name the Pictet Group opened and maintained accounts, some of which were undeclared, for U.S. taxpayer-clients;
  • Opening and maintaining undeclared accounts in the names of offshore entities formed by others for U.S. taxpayer-clients;
  • Opening and maintaining Private Placement Life Insurance policy accounts, also called insurance wrappers, held in the name of insurance companies but beneficially owned by U.S. taxpayers and improperly managed or funded through undeclared accounts at the Pictet Group;
  • Transferring funds from undeclared U.S. taxpayer-client accounts to accounts nominally held by non-U.S. clients but still controlled by U.S. taxpayer-clients via fictitious donations, thus assisting U.S. taxpayer-clients in continuing to maintain undeclared funds offshore; and
  • Providing traditional Swiss banking products such as hold-mail account services, where account-related mail is held at the bank rather than sent to the client, and coded or numbered accounts; and
  • Accepting IRS Forms W-8BEN[3] or Pictet Group’s substitute forms that the group knew or should have known falsely stated or implied under penalty of perjury that offshore entities beneficially owned the assets in the undeclared accounts.

The $122.9 million BANQUE PICTET agreed to pay to the U.S. Treasury pursuant to the DPA consists of

  • (I) $52,164,201 to the United States, which represents gross fees (not profits) that the bank earned on its undeclared accounts between 2008 and 2014;
  • (ii) $31,844,192 in restitution to the IRS, which represents the unpaid taxes resulting from BANQUE PICTET’s participation in the conspiracy; and
  • (iii) a $38,950,998 penalty.  The penalty considers the nature and seriousness of the Pictet Group's conduct, the Bank’s extensive internal investigation, the Bank’s substantial provision of documents to the Justice Department, and the Bank’s facilitation of witness interviews.  The Bank further implemented remedial measures to protect against the use of its services for future tax evasion.

In addition to the payment, BANQUE PICTET also agrees under the DPA to accept responsibility for its conduct by stipulating to the accuracy of an extensive Statements of Facts.  BANQUE PICTET further agreed to refrain from all future criminal conduct, implement remedial measures and cooperate fully with further investigations into hidden bank accounts.  Specifically, the Bank is required to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations and affirmatively disclose any information it may later uncover regarding U.S.-related accounts.  The Bank is also required to disclose information consistent with the Justice Department’s Swiss Bank Program relating to accounts closed between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2022.  The agreements provide no protection from criminal or civil prosecution for any individuals.

If BANQUE PICTET continues to comply with its agreement, the United States has agreed to defer prosecution of BANQUE PICTET for a period of three years, after which time the United States will seek to dismiss the charge against BANQUE PICTET.


[1] An “undeclared account” was a financial account beneficially owned by an individual subject to U.S. tax obligations and maintained in a foreign country that had not been reported by the individual account owner to the U.S. Government on an income tax return or an FBAR—a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114 (formerly known as Form TD F 90 22.1).

[2] “U.S. Penalty Accounts” are defined as U.S. accounts valued over $50,000 that the parties agree should be subject to a penalty for the offense conduct.

[3]The IRS Form W-8BEN is a tax form that identifies the foreign status of non-U.S. persons for U.S. tax withholding purposes.


U.S. v. Banque Pictet DPA   [PDF, 511 KB]


The Team

Meet the team of industry experts behind Comsure

Find out more

Latest News

Keep up to date with the very latest news from Comsure

Find out more


View our latest imagery from our news and work

Find out more


Think we can help you and your business? Chat to us today

Get In Touch

News Disclaimer

As well as owning and publishing Comsure's copyrighted works, Comsure wishes to use the copyright-protected works of others. To do so, Comsure is applying for exemptions in the UK copyright law. There are certain very specific situations where Comsure is permitted to do so without seeking permission from the owner. These exemptions are in the copyright sections of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended)[]. Many situations allow for Comsure to apply for exemptions. These include 1] Non-commercial research and private study, 2] Criticism, review and reporting of current events, 3] the copying of works in any medium as long as the use is to illustrate a point. 4] no posting is for commercial purposes [payment]. (for a full list of exemptions, please read here]. Concerning the exceptions, Comsure will acknowledge the work of the source author by providing a link to the source material. Comsure claims no ownership of non-Comsure content. The non-Comsure articles posted on the Comsure website are deemed important, relevant, and newsworthy to a Comsure audience (e.g. regulated financial services and professional firms [DNFSBs]). Comsure does not wish to take any credit for the publication, and the publication can be read in full in its original form if you click the articles link that always accompanies the news item. Also, Comsure does not seek any payment for highlighting these important articles. If you want any article removed, Comsure will automatically do so on a reasonable request if you email