Credit Suisse launches internal investigation after offices searched in tax probe

Some 346 Aussies hold Swiss bank accounts

The probes represent a challenge for Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam as he reshapes Credit Suisse to focus on wealth management and weighs options to increase capital depleted by fines for past misbehavior.

The Swiss bank said Friday that its offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam were contacted on Thursday by local authorities concerning client tax matters.

Australia's minister for revenue and financial services, Kelly O'Dwyer, said the country's financial crime investigator was looking at 340 Australians linked to Swiss bank accounts, which she said were only identified by number.

European authorities are investigating dozens of people suspected of tax evasion involving Swiss bank Credit Suisse, officials have said.

Earlier, Swiss authorities protested angrily that they were not involved in the investigation into suspected tax evasion led by the Netherlands and including Britain, France, Germany and Australia, as well as Eurojust, the European Union's judicial coordination agency. Two people were arrested on suspicion of tax evasion by hiding assets.

A pricey auto and expensive paintings were among the items seized in the raid on homes in The Hague and other towns in the Netherlands, the Dutch authorities said.

The latest tax crackdown takes place years after the second largest Swiss bank was hopeful it had put its tax-evasive days in the past.

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Britain's tax authority said it had launched a tax-evasion and money-laundering probe against an worldwide financial institution, some of its senior employees and a number of its customers.

The U.K. tax authority is investigating "senior employees" at a global financial institution, it said in a statement.

The Dutch national tax administration said it suspects funds worth several million euro have been hidden from authorities.

It said later it had launched an internal probe.

However, the Swiss office of the attorney general said it was "disconcerted" by the way Dutch authorities had handled the matter and would demand an explanation.

News of probe also comes as Credit Suisse faces hefty criticism in Switzerland as well as by renowned global outlets including "Breaking Views", Germany's "Handelsblatt" (behind paywall), and the "Financial Times" (also behind paywall) for hiking top executive pay.

From 2013 Credit Suisse has applied the withholding tax agreement between Switzerland and the United Kingdom as well as implementing the Dutch and French voluntary tax disclosure programmes. Reportedly targeting 50,000 suspicious accounts at Credit Suisse worldwide, it opens up a new criminal worry for the bank as it grapples with a wide-ranging restructuring and capital restoration.

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