Wegelin & Co declined to attend a New York court hearing this week relating to allegations by the US authorities that the Swiss private bank helped US clients evade taxes.
Wegelin maintains that the Swiss law that the US attempted to use to serve Wegelin is “not effective to begin the legal process for a US court case, as the Swiss law explicitly states that ‘[w]hoever accepts a summons to appear before a foreign authority shall be under no obligation to comply.’"
The bank declined to attend partly, it said in a statement, because of the fear that the US court might issue an order that could require it to violate Swiss law.
Wegelin was at pains to stress that, together with its lawyers, it is willing to cooperate with the US authorities and to “resolve the matter within the boundaries of Swiss law.”
The indictment of Wegelin was the first in which the US accused a foreign bank, rather than individuals, of helping US citizens commit tax fraud. Wegelin was accused of helping clients hide more than $1.2 billion in offshore bank accounts.