UBS releases client details in US tax row

IN AN unprecedented deal Swiss bank UBS has agreed to surrender 4,450 client names to US investigators after a year-long probe by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).<br /><br />The accounts, some of which have since been closed, held an estimated $18bn (&pound;11bn) at one point.<br /><br />The agreement follows a battle by the IRS to prosecute suspected US tax evaders and signals the end of legal threats against the bank by the US Department of Justice, which had wanted the bank to surrender the details of 52,000 clients.<br /><br />Under the deal the US will ask the Swiss government for information on special accounts. Bern will then direct UBS to provide the IRS with details. UBS is required to submit information on the first 500 accounts within 60 days.<br /><br />In February UBS agreed to pay $780m to avoid criminal prosecution for its activities.<br /><br />It admitted it had participated &ldquo;in a scheme to defraud the US&rdquo;, advising US clients to smuggle money out of the country and destroy bank records to conceal the offshore accounts.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the Swiss government yesterday said it will sell the nine per cent stake in UBS it took on when it bailed out the bank.<br /><br />The government will convert its Sfr6bn (&pound;3.4bn) of notes into shares and sell them to institutional investors on 25 August.