Switzerland’s oldest bank is to close permanently after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping Americans evade their taxes.

Wegelin, which was established in 1741, has also agreed to pay $57.8 million (£36 million) in fines to US authorities.

It said that once this was completed, it ‘will cease to operate as a bank’.

The bank has admitted to allowing more that 100 Americans to hide money from the Internal Revenue Service for nearly 10 years.

Swiss banks have in recent years moved to prevent US citizens from opening offshore accounts. Wegelin is the first foreign bank to plead guilty to tax evasion charges in the US.

The Wegelin case comes four years after a far larger Swiss bank, UBS, agreed to pay a $780 million fine to US authorities related to tax evasion charges. UBS also agreed to reveal the details of US account holders.

However, UBS neither pleaded nor was found guilty. Instead it and US prosecutors came to what is called a deferred prosecution agreement, with the fine being paid in exchange for the charges being dropped.

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