Otto Bruderer, Wegelin’s managing partner, entered a guilty plea on the bank’s behalf at a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Thursday and said the bank, between 2002 and 2010, knew U.S. taxpayers maintained secret accounts at Wegelin in order to evade U.S. taxes.

“Wegelin was aware that this conduct was wrong,” Mr. Bruderer said during the hearing. “However, Wegelin believed that, as a practical matter, it would not be prosecuted in the United States for this conduct because it had no branches or offices in the United States and because of its understanding that it acted in accordance with, and not in violation of, Swiss law and that such conduct was common in the Swiss banking industry.”

The last sentence has raised much attention and has upset an entire industry in Switzerland.

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