Swiss Finance Minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, claims that the US government is keen to end the long running dispute over wealthy Americans with undeclared Swiss bank accounts before the upcoming US presidential election.

Currently eleven Swiss banks are under investigation by the United States accused of aiding US citizens evade their taxes. But the Swiss want the investigations to be dropped in exchange for payment of fines and the disclosure of the names of thousands of US citizens with Swiss bank accounts.

So much for Swiss banking secrecy! But this isn’t so much a case of Switzerland deciding to change their centuries old tradition of keeping client details confidential. The real reason is the fact that the Swiss government wants to agree an amnesty from prosecution for the other 300 plus banks that operate in Switzerland.

Until recently the US government didn’t look to be very interested and were pressing ahead with legal process against the original 11 banks, which included Credit Suisse and Julius Baer, as a first stage towards taking action against anny other – probably all – Swiss located bank that they suspected might hold undeclared accounts held by US citizens.

However now that Kevin Downing, the US prosecutor driving the case, is leaving the government in order to join a major law firm it seems that the US are willing to negotiate particularly as some tax haven governments are making waves over the position of the US state of Delaware, widely regarded as being one of the major tax havens in the world, and of which US Vice President Jo Biden when the senior senator for Delaware was a great defender.

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Category: International Taxation  

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