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US issues new bank data deadline

The United States has given Switzerland a deadline to hand over information on Americans allegedly using Swiss accounts to avoid paying tax, newspapers say.

Two Sunday newspapers reported that a letter from US Deputy Attorney General James Cole demanded a “significant” number of client accounts be handed over by Tuesday, otherwise Credit Suisse and nine smaller Swiss banks would face charges.

Contents of the letter, sent on August 31, were published in the SonntagsZeitung and NZZ am Sonntag. 

If Switzerland does not comply, the US could issue a subpoena against the banks to force them to hand over data, as it did in the case of UBS, the newspapers said.

A Swiss government spokesman declined to comment on the letter but told the Reuters news agency: "We are seeking a solution on the basis of existing laws." 

To settle its impasse with the US, Switzerland last month made a proposal to hand over data on groups of clients under a pending new bilateral tax treaty, yet to be approved by the US Senate.

The US is pushing for Switzerland to hand over thousands of bank client names as it did last year when it allowed UBS to reveal the details of around 4,450 clients to avoid criminal charges.

According to the SonntagsZeitung, Washington was seeking details of all US clients with accounts worth at least $50,000 (SFr39,000) between 2002 and 2010 at banks including Credit Suisse. This could imply tens of thousands of accounts – more than a bilateral double taxation accord would allow. and agencies

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