UBS suggests giving IRS anonymous client data

Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, has proposed giving United States tax authorities banking data on some of its clients but with no names or account numbers attached.

This content was published on June 16, 2009 - 17:17

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been seeking information on 52,000 UBS account holders in an effort to find tax cheats. UBS has so far refused to release the information because it would violate Swiss law.

But during a conference call last week between US District Court Judge Alan Gold and lawyers from the IRS and UBS, the bank proposed an assessment report be admitted as evidence in a lawsuit seeking to force the bank into handing over the data.

According to that assessment, more than 99 per cent of UBS's American clients who do not want the bank to give the IRS their account information do not have American securities held at UBS.

That means the bank is under no obligation to reveal those clients' identities to the IRS, according to a "Qualified Intermediary" agreement reached with US authorities in 2001. US prosecutors allege that UBS exploited that agreement to help Americans avoid paying at least $300 million (SFr326 million) in taxes.

The IRS says the assessment cannot be verified given Switzerland's banking secrecy laws.

Gold said he would not rule on the matter until after the trial begins July 13.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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