Switzerland agrees to help US by passing on account details
SWISS banks will be allowed to pass some data to US authorities under a government plan agreed yesterday to save the industry from criminal charges of tax evasion.
US authorities want Swiss banks to pay fines potentially amounting to $10bn (€7.5bn) for the whole industry and hand over the names of Americans it suspects of using secret accounts to evade tax, but strict secrecy laws stop them from complying. The Swiss government said it agreed the parameters under which banks could seek to resolve the dispute and said they could apply for individual authorisation to allow them to cooperate with the United States, but stressed they would not be allowed to hand over client names.
Banks will be allowed to reveal information such as details of accounts moved to other banks, names of bank staff, lawyers and accountants, helping US authorities identify wealthy clients who are evading taxes, without naming them.
Last month, the Swiss parliament rejected legislation that would have allowed banks to sidestep secrecy laws. (Reuters)