The first Swiss banks have signaled their readiness to work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes and many more are expected to follow in the coming weeks, in the latest blow to Switzerland’s cherished bank secrecy.
The deal between the United States and Switzerland, agreed in August, is part of a U.S. drive to lift the veil of Swiss bank secrecy. In 2009, this led to UBS paying $780 million in a settlement where the bank agreed to hand over U.S. client names with secret Swiss accounts.
The U.S. pursuit of tax dollars sheltered in offshore accounts has piled pressure on Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore finance center with more than $2 trillion in assets.
The Swiss government in June bowed to repeated attacks on banking secrecy, deeply embedded in the country’s culture, and will share data on foreign depositors if a global standard is established.
Under this latest U.S. deal, Swiss banks were given until Monday by their regulator to say whether they would take part in the government-brokered program open to a host of second-tier Swiss banks.
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