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US offers Swiss banks a deal, says newspaper

The United States authorities have offered to lift the threat of legal action against 11 Swiss banks in exchange for information, a Swiss paper reported on Sunday.

This content was published on December 18, 2011 - 17:19
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The SonntagsZeitung says it has discovered that Michael Ambühl, who heads the Swiss state secretariat for international financial matters, and who has been conducting negotiations with the US authorities for several months, presented representatives of the banks with the deal on Friday.

It quotes “one of those involved” as saying each of the 11 banks will be offered a deal similar to that accepted by the UBS bank in 2009 after it was discovered that it had helped US clients to hide their assets from the US tax authorities.  

Under that deal UBS provided information about some 4,450 clients and paid a fine of $780 million (SFr913 million at the time).

The deal presented on Friday calls on the banks to hand over detailed information about their US off-shore banking businesses, including the names of the bankers.

They will also have to pay a fine.

The banks have been given until Tuesday to accept, and the first three must deliver the information by December 31, the paper said.

An insider told it that the banks were unlikely to turn down the deal, since the US authorities already had comprehensive information about their practices anyway.

None of the banks or organisations contacted by the paper would confirm the story.

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