Monday, November 7, 2011

No Swiss payment offer over U.S. tax probe

ZURICH, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Switzerland has not offered a financial settlement to end a U.S. tax investigation into a number of Swiss banks but remains willing to hand over bank client names as part of any deal, a government spokesman said on Friday.
Basler Kantonalbank , Credit Suisse and Julius Baer are among 11 Swiss banks under investigation in connection with allegations they helped Americans dodge taxes.

Mario Tuor, a spokesman for the Swiss department responsible for international financial affairs, reiterated Switzerland's stance that client names could be transferred under existing double-taxation treaties.

While Switzerland has expressed an interest in sealing a deal for the whole banking sector, Tuor would not comment on a report that the government had offered a deal for the country's more than 300 banks.

"I assume that we will find a solution by the end of the year," she told the weekly Bilanz, adding Switzerland would continue to refuse any so-called 'fishing expeditions', or broad requests for bank client data with little evidence.

But parliament should deal with a government proposal to allow U.S. authorities to request help finding names of suspected tax dodgers based on defined behavioural patterns in its December session, she told Bilanz.

Credit Suisse said earlier this week it had taken a provision of 295 million Swiss francs ($334 million) for settling the U.S. investigation, suggesting a deal might be near. It said the final settlement might exceed the current provision.

Asked whether Credit Suisse would have to hand over more client details than the 4,450 UBS had to provide, Widmer-Schlumpf said Switzerland would only deliver more bank data when its courts had denied any client appeals.

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