Credit Suisse is suing the taxman to recover money it was forced to hand over for paying huge bonuses to staff.
Chief executive Tidjane Thiam wants the lender to claw back £239million paid to the Exchequer as a one-off bonus tax in 2010.
The bank claims this amounted to illegal state aid because only lenders that paid bonuses over a four-month period were hit, which unfairly benefited those that paid bonuses at other times.
Legal bid: Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam wants the lender to claw back £239m paid to the Exchequer as a one-off bonus tax in 2010
Credit Suisse – the only bank to contest the tax – also wants substantial damages in the case, which will go before the High Court next year.
But its legal action has angered campaigners, who accuse it of being greedy and learning nothing from the financial crisis in 2008.
Pay cut forced on boss
Tidjane Thiam became a poster boy for corporate excess after taking charge of Credit Suisse in 2015, earning £29.7million for two and a half years’ work as he slashed thousands of jobs.
But angry investors forced the 55-year-old to accept a 5 per cent cut last year, taking his pay to £7.3million.
The former government minister in his home country of Ivory Coast was forced to flee following a coup in 1999.
Fran Boait, from Positive Money, which challenges excess in the banking sector, said: ‘Even Credit Suisse’s own shareholders have voiced concerns that the bank’s executive pay is excessive.
‘But instead of turning over a new leaf, the bank is more interested in pursuing this shameless legal action against ordinary taxpayers over a levy from eight years ago.’
The tax imposed by the last Labour government raised £3.4billion after taking 50 per cent of bankers’ bonuses above £25,000.
Credit Suisse had to cut its bonus pool by 5 per cent, and 400 senior UK bankers took a 30 per cent hit to their payouts.
Although it was never bailed out, it has been embroiled in several scandals in recent years.
In 2014, it admitted helping clients evade tax and was forced to pay £1.9billion to US authorities.
Last year, wealthy clients across Europe were raided by prosecutors who seized jewellery, fine art and gold bullion in a money-laundering and tax-evasion probe.
A bank spokesman said: ‘Credit Suisse has sought to resolve bank payroll tax issues over a number of years with HMRC.
‘These technical issues are now the subject of formal proceedings, which Credit Suisse has a legitimate interest in pursuing to provide certainty as to the proper scope and application of the 2010 one-off tax.’
HMRC declined to comment.