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Swiss state may sieze client data from UBS

THE Swiss government yesterday vowed to prevent UBS from handing confidential client information to the US authorities, even if the bank is issued with an American court order next week.<br /><br />Bern, which is keen to maintain the country&rsquo;s reputation for banking secrecy, said it could take the unusual step of confiscating the data on tens of thousands of American customers from UBS.<br /><br />The Swiss government&rsquo;s remarks come after the US demanded UBS hand over the names of up to 52,000 US taxpayers with offshore accounts in Switzerland as part of an investigation into tax evasion.<br /><br />The US authorities accuse UBS of helping wealthy Americans hide up to $15bn (&pound;9.4bn). UBS could be prepared to hand over a fine of up to $5.5bn to end the damaging dispute.