UK woman arrested, millions recovered in tax probe


A British woman has been arrested and assets worth millions of euros have been recovered in a tax evasion probe in Britain and The Netherlands, apparently involving Swiss bank accounts, Dutch officials said Wednesday.

The arrest came after at least four European countries and Australia said last week that they had launched a sweeping investigation reportedly targeting the Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse (IOB: 0QP5.IL - news) .

"A British woman, 46, was arrested after a joint investigation with the British Revenue and Customs Service into her and her 51-year-old Dutch husband. Assets of more than six million euros ($6.3 million) have been confiscated," the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) said.

"The couple allegedly used their marketing business in Manchester to commit tax fraud and launder money via offshore accounts in The Netherlands, Germany and Austria," the FIOD said.

During raids Tuesday, agents seized two villas in The Netherlands, luxury British and German cars and a speedboat. They also raided the couple's business and homes in Austria, Britain and The Netherlands.

Tax authorities became suspicious of the couple after they withdrew more than 300,000 euros in cash from Dutch banks using credit cards linked to foreign bank accounts, the FIOD said.

"The woman allegedly laundered the money from criminal proceeds in The Netherlands, where the two suspects own two homes and where they regularly stay," the FIOD said.

The woman was arrested at another home in Britain.

It was not immediately clear if Tuesday's arrests were linked to the international investigations launched last week.

The FIOD drew no links between the arrest and the Swiss tax fraud probe, except to say that it had recently received information about more than 3,800 Dutch citizens who have a bank account "at a Swiss bank".

None of the authorities have confirmed that Credit Suisse was targeted last week. The bank said only that local authorities came to its offices in Amsterdam, London and Paris on Thursday "concerning client tax matters".

"We are cooperating with the authorities," Credit Suisse said a statement.

In double-page ads in European newspapers this week, the bank, Switzerland's second-largest, insisted that it has "zero tolerance" for tax evasion.

Its head of international wealth management, Iqbal Khan, told the Bloomberg news agency at the weekend that he understood the probe was focused strictly on the bank's clients.