Swiss Parliament delays UBS tax deal

A SWISS-US tax deal crucial to the future of UBS hung in the balance as the lower house of parliament voted again yesterday for a referendum, delaying a final decision until today.

A special panel is set to iron out differences between the upper and lower houses this morning before they take final votes later in the day. Both houses have to reach agreement or leave the deal in tatters.

Parliament’s main body finally backed the tax treaty on Tuesday but demands for a referendum on the issue sent it back to the upper house, which yesterday, remained unmoved in its opposition to a popular vote.

If parliamentarians find enough common ground to approve the deal, it will draw a line under months of uncertainty over a legal dispute that has threatened to bring the country’s biggest bank, UBS, to its knees.

The Swiss lower house originally rejected the tax treaty last week, delaying a final decision on whether to allow the government to hand over the accounts of 4,450 clients UBS helped to dodge taxes to US authorities. But Switzerland’s biggest party, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), shifted position at the second vote on Tuesday, allowing the lower house to back the deal.