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NY bank regulator Lawsky seeks documents from Credit Suisse: source

The entrance to a Credit Suisse branch is seen in New York February 6, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The entrance to a Credit Suisse branch is seen in New York February 6, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - Benjamin Lawsky, New York's financial services superintendent, has sought documents from Credit Suisse to examine whether Switzerland's second-biggest bank lied to New York authorities about engineering tax shelters, said a source familiar with the matter.

Switzerland's private banking model has been rattled to its core by a U.S. crackdown on tax evasion. Credit Suisse was told by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) it was under investigation in 2011, while rival UBS admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers evade taxes.

While the DoJ has considered a deferred-prosecution agreement that would suspend any indictment in exchange for a large cash penalty, it is also pushing for a guilty plea from a Credit Suisse subsidiary, according to a New York Times report on Sunday.

The cash penalty is expected to be more than the $780 million fine UBS paid in 2009, the newspaper said. (http://link.reuters.com/rek38v)

Credit Suisse said last week it increased the funds it had set aside to settle a U.S. tax dispute and avoid prosecution for helping wealthy Americans hide cash from the taxman, raising the prospect it may be close to a settlement in the lengthy dispute.

The bank set aside an extra 425 million Swiss francs ($480 million) to take its total provisions for tax and securities law matters in the United States to 895 million francs.

Lawsky's office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Credit Suisse could not be reached for comment outside regular working hours.

(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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