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Wegelin bank to close after US tax dodge fine

Wegelin bank to close after US tax dodge fine
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The oldest private Swiss bank is to close after admitting its role in helping wealthy Americans dodge their taxes.

Wegelin Bank, which was founded in 1741, agreed to pay a fine of more than 44 million euros. It pleaded guilty to hiding almost one billion euros from US authorities.

A professor from Berne Law School, Peter Kunz, said he thought the fine was kept relatively low because Wegelin had said all Swiss banks did the same thing, opening the way for more similar action by the US. He said the case is sure to spell trouble for other banks in Switzerland.

Four years ago, the much larger Swiss bank UBS agreed to pay a fine of 600-million euros in connection with US tax evasion.

The charges were dropped after the fine was paid, and UBS handed over details of its American account holders to the US authorities.