Switzerland will hand over bank account details to US authorities, settling a tax dispute that has threatened Swiss banking secrecy.Thousands of customers of the Swiss bank UBS are suspected by America of evading tax. Now, under pressure from the US, UBS has agreed to hand over details of 4,450 accounts although that is far fewer than the 35,000 requested. Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, said: “This agreement preserves Swiss interests and, in that sense, it is a good agreement. The negotiations have been difficult but they were in the context of the excellent bilateral relations we have with the United States.” The deal will enable UBS to rebuild its battered image as a haven for tax evaders and has allowed the Swiss government to sell its stake in the bank. John Coffee, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, said: “ This is probably the end of UBS’s role as a major vehicle for tax evasion for Americans with mobile assets that they could place abroad.” The new treaty means American tax inspectors will go after UBS clients suspected of committing tax fraud under the double taxation agreement that obliges Switzerland to provide help if Washington needs it to pursue a criminal investigation.
Swiss agree to hand over bank details to US