Financial Regulatory Forum

Swiss minister says US insists on UBS tax deal – paper

ZURICH, Feb 11 (Reuters) – The Swiss government will probably have to turn to parliament to resolve a legal impasse threatening a deal struck with the United States to hand over data from UBS AG clients, a minister was quoted as saying.

The Swiss government had raised the option of parliament retroactively approving the deal, involving UBS clients suspected of dodging taxes, after a Swiss court ruled in favour of a UBS client seeking to prevent her account data from being given to the U.S. tax agency.

But the government’s preferred solution has so far been to negotiate a way out, hoping the United States would drop the issue if more than 10,000 UBS clients had turned themselves in voluntarily.

“I assume today that parliament has to get involved,” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told Swiss daily Blick in an interview published on Thursday.

“The United States insist that we stick to the fundamentals of the agreement. This means they want the some 4,500 sets of client data, which refer to cases of severe tax evasion and tax fraud,” she said.

ANALYSIS-Pressure mounts on Swiss private banks

By Lisa Jucca and Rupert Pretterklieber

ZURICH, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Swiss private bankers say attacks on the country’s treasured bank secrecy law turned 2009 into an “annus horribilis.”

A fresh German offensive against tax cheats does not make 2010 look any better for the key guardians of Switzerland’s multi-trillion-dollar wealth management industry.

Despite a settlement in the United States aimed at ending a tax probe against Swiss bank giant UBS and Switzerland’s pledges to help foreign authorities hunt down tax dodgers, the pressure on already weakened Swiss bank client confidentiality refuses to subside.

Swiss minister sees economic risk in U.S. tax dispute over UBS, shares fall

By Lisa Jucca

ZURICH, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Shares in UBS AG fell to a 6-1/2 month low on Monday after the justice minister underscored the risk to the Swiss economy should the bank’s settlement of a U.S. tax dispute unravel.

Traders said news Germany was considering buying data of 1,500 possible tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts from an informant also weighed on the shares.

UBS settled a damaging tax row with the United States in August by agreeing to transfer data on 4,450 clients to U.S. tax authorities. But that deal is in question after a Swiss court ruled last month that most of the data cannot be transferred.

Swiss government moves to save UBS tax deal

BERNE, Jan 27 (Reuters) – The Swiss government is to talk to the U.S. authorities in a bid to resolve a legal impasse that has threatened to derail a key tax deal over UBS client data, it said on Wednesday.

A UBS client last week won a Swiss court appeal to prevent her account data from being given to the U.S. taxman, throwing doubt on Switzerland’s ability to deliver details of 4,450 UBS client accounts to U.S. authorities as agreed in August.

“The cabinet is convinced that it can definitively overcome the continuing legal and sovereignty conflict with the United States with all its damaging consequences for Switzerland’s economy and as a financial centre,” the government said.

UBS client wins Swiss appeal against data handover, tax deal in question

ZURICH, Jan 22 (Reuters) – A client of Swiss bank UBS won an appeal to prevent her account data being handed over to U.S. authorities as part of a deal to give details on 4,450 clients to the U.S. taxman, a court said.

The Swiss administrative court said on Friday the existing double taxation agreement with the United States only allowed for data to be disclosed in cases of “fraud or the like”.

While the pilot case throws doubt on whether Switzerland will be able to hand over all of the 4,450 accounts the United States wants, an alternative criterion allowing for the deal to stand if at least 10,000 clients come forward voluntarily could make this irrelevant.

Swiss central banker backs universal bank model – paper

Jan 16 (Reuters) – Switzerland’s two big banks — UBS and Credit Suisse — should not be forced to split their wealth management and commercial banking operations into separate entities, the new head of the country’s central bank said on Saturday.

Philipp Hildebrand, who took over as chairman of the Swiss National Bank at the start of the month, said the universal banking model provided useful synergies for Swiss banks.

Hildebrand has said repeatedly that major Swiss banks need tighter regulation to deal with the “too big to fail” problem.

Swiss regulator cuts UBS bonus pool – report

   GENEVA, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Swiss regulators have cut the proposed bonus pool at UBS <UBSN.VX>, which needed a state rescue in 2008, by about one quarter, Swiss weekly Sonntags-Zeitung said on Sunday. (more…)

Swiss should tighten rules on UBS, CS further-OECD

Credit Suisse, UBS: Too big to fail?   By Sven Egenter
   BERNE, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Switzerland should tighten the reins on UBS and Credit Suisse further as a failure of the banks may push the economy over the edge, the OCED said on Friday, backing Swiss regulators in their push for tougher regulation. (more…)

Order for UBS to release client data ruled unlawful by Swiss court

By Jason Rhodes

ZURICH, Jan 8 (Reuters) – The Swiss financial regulator broke bank secrecy law last year when it ordered UBS to hand over the files of nearly 300 clients to U.S. authorities, a Swiss court said on Friday.

Regulator FINMA decided on Feb. 18 to allow UBS to hand over some client data to U.S. tax officials, weakening the country’s strict bank secrecy rules in an effort to end a damaging probe into its biggest bank, which prompted clients to pull billions of francs from accounts and leave in droves.

“Even though FINMA was in a difficult position because of the threat of charges against UBS AG, it should not have ordered unilaterally the passing on of data outside of a proper process of a request for official assistance,” Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court said.

U.S. judge rejects leniency for UBS whistleblower

By Tom Brown

MIAMI, Jan 4 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday upheld the prison sentence of a key informant in the tax fraud case against Swiss bank UBS AG and ordered him to start serving his 40-month term as scheduled this Friday.

The ruling by Fort Lauderdale Federal Judge William Zloch ignored both public and legal pleas for leniency by former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, the main whistleblower in the high-profile case that cracked open Swiss banking secrecy.

Lawyers for Birkenfeld had asked Zloch last month to postpone the Jan. 8 start of his prison term, saying he was ready to cooperate further with the authorities in their pursuit of U.S. tax cheats.

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