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SWISS AND US REACH DEAL IN UBS TAX EVASION PROBE

THE SWISS and US governments have reached a preliminary agreement in the long-running dispute about UBS clients suspected of tax evasion.<br /><br />US Justice Department attorney Stuart Gibson said the two sides had &ldquo;initialled&rdquo; a settlement, avoiding a potentially long and costly court case.<br /><br />The details of the deal were not released, although it is thought that UBS will have to pay a huge fine and hand over the details of some 5,000 US account holders.<br /><br />Investors were cheered by the agreement, pushing the company&rsquo;s shares up three per cent to SFr16.34 (&pound;9.19).<br /><br />The US has been pressing UBS to hand over details of 52,000 clients suspected of hiding taxable income with the lender, despite the Swiss bank insisting it could not transfer the data without breaking Swiss bank secrecy laws.<br /><br />Gibson said the agreement would end the need for a court hearing scheduled for 17 August, although he stressed that the deal had not been signed in its final form.<br /><br />UBS chairman Kaspar Villiger said the bank was &ldquo;grateful that the two governments reached this agreement to resolve this issue&rdquo;.<br /><br />Earlier this year, UBS paid a fine of $780m (&pound;467m) and handed over data on 250 clients to settle allegations that it helped US clients evade tax.