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Parliament urged to resolve UBS data question

The president of Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court is looking to parliament to resolve a conflict over the handover of UBS client data to the United States.

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper published on Sunday, Christoph Bandli said it was up to parliamentarians to decide on whether tax evasion was a criminal offence.

If Swiss legislators were to equate tax evasion with tax fraud, authorities could legally hand over the files of 4,450 of the bank’s clients suspected of tax evasion in the US.

Bandli stressed that the cabinet was not the proper body to make that decision, which would effectively quash the principle of banking secrecy.

Parliament could also legitimise the delivery of the documents through a legislative amendment. On Saturday, Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said he had also raised the possibility of submitting an agreement with the US for parliament to approve.

Earlier in January, the court ruled that the Financial and Market Supervisory Authority (Finma), Switzerland’s financial regulator, broke the law in transferring information about wealthy UBS account holders. Finma will appeal the decision.

In an interview published in the weekly Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, Merz said that although the finance ministry had so far issued 600 decisions, “no document has physically left Switzerland”.

The government said it did not know how many UBS customers handed over data to US authorities on their own.

“We are working to clarify this,” justice ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told the Swiss News Agency.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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