Saturday, April 14, 2012

Swiss banks to hand over staff names in U.S. tax row: report

Swiss banks to hand over staff names in U.S. tax row: report

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will allow banks to hand over the names of any employees and other third parties who helped wealthy Americans evade taxes to U.S. prosecutors, a Swiss newspaper reported on Saturday.

Eleven Swiss banks including Credit Suisse (VTX:CSGN.VX - News) and Julius Baer (VTX:BAER.VX - News) are under investigation in the United Stated for aiding U.S. citizens suspected of dodging taxes.

In the latest attempt to end the long-running dispute, Switzerland's Federal Council has now authorized banks to hand over email traffic in connection with such clients to U.S. prosecutors, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported.

This includes the names of employees and where applicable third parties, such as external wealth managers, lawyers and trustees, but not client data, the paper said.

It said Mario Tuor, a spokesman for the Swiss secretariat for international financial affairs, confirmed this in a statement. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
U.S. authorities suspect tens of thousands of Americans have used Swiss banks to squirrel their savings away from the tax inspectors.

Switzerland is trying to get the investigations dropped, in return for the payment of a hefty fine and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S. bank clients. It is also seeking a deal to shield the remainder of its 300 or so banks from U.S. prosecution.

In an interview published on Friday, Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said she expects to clinch a solution with the United States this year.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)