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Commission backs tax information concession

A parliamentary commission has given its backing to a government proposal clarifying how Switzerland would hand over data on alleged tax cheats to Washington.

The proposal is designed to reinforce a double taxation agreement already reached between Switzerland and the United States, and to end a long-simmering dispute over to what extent Bern will hand over bank client data to US tax officials.

The Swiss government hopes that both parliamentary chambers will address this issue before year-end.

The proposal represents an attempt to avoid a lengthy court fight by Swiss bank clients seeking to protect their identity and has implications for an ongoing American probe into banks.

Basler Kantonalbank, Credit Suisse and Julius Baer are among 11 Swiss banks under investigation in connection with allegations they helped Americans dodge taxes.  

The Swiss government has been in talks with US authorities for months to seek a deal to get investigations dropped in return for payment of fines and the transfer of names of clients suspected of tax evasion.  

Washington clinched a key victory in its crackdown on offshore centres in 2009, reaching a deal with Swiss authorities for UBS  to pay a fine of $780 million and reveal details of around 4,450 clients, averting criminal charges. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR