Credit Suisse guilty of helping Americans dodge taxes

Steve Kroft's 2010 interview with Bradley Birkenfeld, a Swiss banker who cracked open the vault on the secretive world of Swiss banking

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access

In what is perhaps yet another "crack" in the Swiss vault, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty on Monday to helping Americans dodge taxes. As part of a settlement deal, the Swiss bank agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties.

This is not the first time a Swiss financial giant has been punished for helping Americans cheat on their taxes. In 2010, Steve Kroft spoke with whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, a U.S. citizen and a former employee for a different Swiss Bank: UBS.

Birkenfeld told Kroft he provided the U.S. government with a list of 19,000 names -- all UBS clients who evaded taxes on a combined $19 billion. At the time, Birkenfeld also faced criminal prosecution.

Web Extra: The Undeclared Account

As part of a deferred prosecution agreement in 2009, UBS agreed to pay a $780 million fine and turn over the names of more than 4,000 U.S. citizens suspected of tax fraud.

Andy Court, one of the producers on the story, says it was this case that ultimately paved the way for other successful prosecutions like that of Credit Suisse.

"Bradley Birkenfeld opened prosecutors'eyes to the shenanigans of Swiss bankers operating surreptitiously here in the U.S.," Court tells 60 Minutes Overtime. "His revelations not only led to a whopping settlement with UBS, but also caused thousands of U.S. tax evaders to come clean and pay back taxes."

Birkenfeld served roughly two and a half years in prison, then walked away a multi-millionaire.

As part of an incentive program for whistleblowers, the IRS awarded Birkenfeld $104 million in 2012 for revealing the secrets of the Swiss banking system.