Swiss private bank Julius Baer said it had finalised an agreement with US authorities, paying $547m to end a criminal investigation into claims that it helped rich Americans dodge taxes. 

"Being able to close this regrettable legacy issue is an important milestone for Julius Baer," chief executive Boris Collardi said in a statement. 

"The settlement ends a long period of uncertainty for us and allows us now to again fully focus on the future and our business activities," he added. 

The bank had already fully booked provisions for the fine, which sent its 2015 net profit down by 67% to 121.2 million Swiss francs (€109m) last year. 

If it did not have to book the provision for the US fine, Julius Baer said profits would have grown last year by a fifth to just over 700 million Swiss francs. 

Julius Baer was among around a dozen Swiss banks placed under criminal investigation by the US Justice Department.

US foreign tax investigations have already resulted in a number of bankers, lawyers and advisers being charged and billions of dollars in bank settlements. 

The US Justice Department last week announced the final settlement in a programme that resulted in 80 banks paying $1.36 billion to avoid prosecution. 

Banks already under criminal investigation like Julius Baer were not eligible for the programme, which required the banks to provide detailed information on the accounts of US taxpayers under investigation. 

In 2014, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to conspiring to assist US taxpayers in filing false tax returns in a $2.6 billion settlement. 

Rival UBS in 2009 agreed to pay $780m as part of a deferred prosecution deal. 

Wegelin & Co, once the oldest Swiss private bank, was meanwhile forced to close after agreeing in 2013 to plead guilty and pay $74m.