Swiss UBS to give US names of 250 clients
The largest Swiss bank, UBS, will hand over the names of 250 of its clients to the United States Justice Department, a Geneva-based newspaper reported, in a move that goes against the Alpine country's longstanding bank secrecy principles, dpa reported.
Without naming its source, Le Temps said the bank would divulge the information as part of an ongoing investigation against UBS in the US alleging that it helped clients there evade paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes since the beginning of the decade.
The clients held assets in off-shore accounts allowing them to fall under the secrecy provided by Swiss banking laws.
The 250 are part of a list of more than 19,000 clients the US authorities would like the Swiss to turn over as part of the tax fraud investigation. Last summer, a US court issued a warrant for the list.
The newspaper said the decision was approved by FINMA, the Swiss regulatory body, under a clause which allows it take "protective measures."
Both UBS and FINMA refused to comment on the story.
Swiss lawyers, including Andreas Rud who represents UBS clients in the US, expressed outrage at the possibility and said it would deteriorate the Swiss bank system, making it lose credibility.
The report comes a week after both UBS and Credit Suisse, the second largest bank, reported huge fourth quarter losses.