Israeli bank to pay $195M for US tax-avoidance scheme

LOS ANGELES — One of Israel's largest banks has agreed to pay $195 million for helping U.S. citizens avoid paying taxes by stashing their assets in offshore accounts.

The U.S. attorney's office says Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank Ltd. and two subsidiaries acknowledged guilt Tuesday in a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice filed in a California court.

The bank has more than 4,000 employees and a Los Angeles branch.

In court documents, Mizrahi-Tefahot acknowledged that from 2002 until 2012 it conspired with U.S. clients to avoid taxes on assets and securities by opening and maintaining offshore accounts under false or code names or through foreign entities.

The bank agreed to pay the government $53 million in restitution, plus the $24 million in fees it earned from the transactions and a $118 million fine.

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