A major Israeli international bank admitted that it conspired to help U.S. taxpayers present false tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service by hiding income and assets in offshore bank accounts in Israel and elsewhere around the world, the Department of Justice announced today.

Bank Leumi Group, one of Israel's largest banks, confessed to the conspiracy and agreed to pay $270 million in a deferred-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice. The bank also agreed to provide the names of more than 1,500 of its U.S. account holders, federal investigators said.

The unprecedented agreement, which was filed in federal court in Los Angeles, marks the first time an Israeli bank has admitted to such criminal conduct, which spanned a period of more than 10 years and included an array of services and products designed to keep U.S. taxpayer accounts concealed at Bank Leumi Group’s locations in Israel, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States.

The bank admitted to, among other things, extending loans to U.S. clients from Bank Leumi USA, its subsidiary in Los Angeles, that were collateralized by the assets in those clients’ offshore accounts. This allowed clients to leverage their offshore assets to obtain and use capital in the United States while keeping their foreign accounts secret and undetected by the U.S. government.