US-UBS tax evasion deal backed by Swiss parliament

Berne Switzerland has a tradition of banking secrecy

Switzerland's parliament has voted to approve a deal which would see information on suspected tax evaders passed to US authorities.

The lower house of the Swiss parliament backed the agreement, reversing its earlier decision to reject it last week.

The move is designed to head off US accusations that the Swiss bank UBS is aiding tax evasion.

The US alleges that 4,450 of its citizens hold secret accounts with UBS.

It has already agreed to drop legal action against UBS if the details of those account holders are handed over before the end of August.

But further delays could make meeting that deadline difficult.

UBS fears

The upper house of the Swiss parliament has still to vote on the deal, with a third and final vote from the lower house due on Friday.

There are also calls for a public referendum, which could delay a final decision even further.

Opponents of the agreement have expressed concern that it requires huge changes to Switzerland's banking privacy laws, which have helped its banks attract significant business from wealthy US and European customers.

But politicians and banking analysts also fear that failing to appease the US could result in the bankruptcy of UBS, which is still seen as too weak to withstand the legal action currently being threatened.

The Swiss banking giant was one of the banks worst hit by the financial crisis, having invested heavily in sub-prime loans.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories


Features & Analysis

  • An ant and a humanMass of bodies

    Do all the world's ants really weigh as much as all the humans?

  • Taxi in Mexico Freewheeling

    How I got my driving licence without taking a test

  • Tattooed person using tabletRogue ink

    People who lost their jobs because of their tattoos

  • Indian coupleSuspicious spouses

    Is your sweetheart playing away? Call Delhi's wedding detective

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world...?

    Think you are a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s interactive game


  • StudentsClick Watch

    Could a new social network help tailor lessons to students’ needs and spot when they fall behind?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.