Swiss private bank Banque Pictet et Cie SA
The Justice Department announced a deferred prosecution agreement with Swiss private bank Banque Pictet et Cie SA. AFP

Banque Pictet et Cie will pay nearly $123 million under a deferred prosecution agreement in which the private bank admitted to helping US taxpayers evade $50.6 million in taxes, US officials announced Monday.

The Swiss financial company hid more than $5.6 billion in 1,637 secret bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The bank's actions between 2008 and 2014 included forming or administering offshore entities; opening private life insurance companies secretly owned by US taxpayers; and transferring funds from American-owned accounts to bogus accounts of non-clients still controlled by the US holders.

"Today, Banque Pictet et Cie admitted to actively helping US taxpayers use coded accounts, foreign trusts and entities, nominee beneficiaries and other deceits to conceal their income and assets abroad," said Stuart Goldberg, DOJ's acting deputy assistant attorney general.

"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."

Under the agreement, Banque Pictet will pay $31.8 million in restitution for US taxes; $52.2 million for fees earned on the undeclared accounts; and a penalty of nearly $39 million.

If Banque Pictet complies with the agreement, the United States will seek to dismiss the charges after three years. Monday's announcement did not include charges against individual bankers.

Pictet said the agreement acknowledges that the bank began enhancing its policies in 2008 before the Justice Department's investigation into another Swiss bank became public.

"Pictet is pleased to have resolved this matter and will continue to take steps to ensure its clients meet their tax obligations," the bank said.