Banking

Swiss Banks Actually See Hope in Wegelin Demise

Eliminates uncertainty about what US wants from them

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Swiss banks are whispering a silent prayer that the deal between private banker Wegelin & Co and Washington over tax dodging could smoothe the way to cheaper and faster settlements of their own cases with U.S. authorities.

Wegelin will shut its doors permanently after admitting on Thursday it conspired for nearly a decade to help Americans evade taxes and agreeing to pay $57.8 million in restitution and fines, a much smaller penalty than expected.

Otto Bruderer, a managing partner at Wegelin, said in court the bank knew its conduct was wrong.

"As the only bank to be indicted and strike a deal, the question is now whether Wegelin's settlement can be used as a basis for others," said Daniel Senn, a Zurich-based partner at accounting firm KPMG.