Merz says IRS-UBS row needs no emergency laws

Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz says using emergency laws is not an option as negotiations on a settlement between the American tax authorities and UBS continue.

This content was published on August 9, 2009 - 18:46

Merz, who also holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, told public television on Sunday that talks were nearing an end and that the federal cabinet would meet to discuss the case, perhaps as early as Monday. A government spokesman would not confirm or deny the meeting.

The dispute between UBS and the United States' Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revolves around a US search for taxable assets held in Swiss banks. The IRS has demanded Switzerland's second largest bank, UBS, provide account data on 52,000 American clients, a move that Swiss authorities say would break the law.

The matter has been tied up in a US District Court in Miami for months. The parties have since agreed in principle to settle the matter out of court but are struggling on the fine print.

Merz said the government would be informed of the exact settlement once the agreement is finalised.

The financial market supervisory authority, Finma, used an emergency law in February, when it directed UBS to give US investigators details on 250 clients after the bank was found guilty of helping to conceal assets. Swiss banking laws prevent the handing over of such information without sufficient evidence of fraud.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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