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After plea deal, Credit Suisse faces U.S. hearing on pension business

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Credit Suisse AG will face a public hearing over whether or not the U.S. government should allow the Swiss bank to manage Americans’ retirement funds after its decision to plead guilty to tax crimes.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Friday solicited public input for a Jan. 15 hearing on whether to issue its recommended 10-year exemption for Credit Suisse to continue to provide services to pension plans.

The bank faced the prospect of being disqualified from offering such services after it entered a guilty plea in May and agreed to pay $2.6 billion to resolve charges that it helped wealthy Americans evade taxes.

In July, Credit Suisse had asked the court to delay imposing its sentence on the bank so that it could obtain a Labor Department waiver and avoid disruptions in its pension business.

On Friday the Department of Labor said it had granted the bank a temporary, one-year exemption while it considered the longer-term one. The bank is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, on Nov. 21.

The bank said it manages several billion dollars of assets for pension funds.

Several Democratic lawmakers, including Maxine Waters, who is the ranking member of the House financial services committee, and George Miller, who holds the same position on the House education and workforce committee, had asked for the hearing. The lawmakers said they wanted to make sure the agency was not just a “rubber stamp” in granting the waivers.

The requests come amid a larger pushback among some enforcement authorities and lawmakers who have increasingly questioned whether big financial firms are getting off too easily for their misdeeds.

Credit Suisse spokesman Justin Perras said the bank was pleased the Labor Department had granted the one-year exemption and had proposed a 10-year exemption.

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