Switzerland ‘close to deal’ in US tax dispute

Switzerland ‘close to deal’ in US tax dispute

ZURICH - Reuters
Switzerland ‘close to deal’ in US tax dispute

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in seen in front of an office building. REUTERS photo

Switzerland is on the brink of a deal to settle a long-running dispute with U.S. authorities over Swiss banks accused of helping wealthy Americans evade billions of dollars of tax, the finance minister said on May 18.

“We hope that we will shortly be at the finishing line,” Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told Swiss radio in an interview. “The banks won’t get it for nothing.”

Widmer-Schlumpf declined to say how high fines might be, but added: “It is clear that it will not be a pleasant solution.”

Bank secrecy, which has helped Switzerland become the world’s largest offshore center with $2 trillion in assets, has come under fire since the financial crisis, as cash-strapped governments seek to clamp down on tax evasion. The Swiss government has been in protracted talks to end U.S. investigations into Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse and Julius Baer, in return for expected heavy fines and a transfer of client names.

Bern said last month it was considering a possible solution to the U.S. probes.