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UBS client wins right to be heard

Switzerland’s administrative court has ruled that a client of the UBS bank has the right to contest the handover of his account details to the United States authorities.

The judges found that the client had not been informed that the bank was considering sharing his data with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and that he had therefore not had an opportunity to put his case.

The Federal Tax Administration admitted it could not prove it had indeed informed the client personally about the steps it was preparing to take. The court found that extensive publicity in the newspapers about the fact that UBS client data was liable to be disclosed to the IRS was not sufficient.

The administration must now re-examine the dossier and give the client the chance to state his case. The man says the assets do not actually belong to him.

Switzerland agreed with the US in 2009 to examine the accounts of up to 4,450 UBS clients suspected of tax evasion, with a view to handing them over to the IRS. It made the deal, approved by parliament in June, in order to avoid a lawsuit against the bank.

Administrative court spokesman Andrea Archidiacono said the current ruling covered only a single case. Another 166 appeals are still pending.

The tax administration expects to have delivered the bulk of the data to the URS by the end of the autumn.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR