City A.M. Reporter
The deal initialled last week between the US and Switzerland over UBS is expected to involve the disclosure of around 5,000 holders of secret Swiss bank accounts.<br /><br />The landmark deal, ending a dispute in which the US tax authorities had sued UBS to disclose 52,000 American clients suspected of tax evasion, dispels a big cloud hanging over the world’s second biggest wealth manager. It also formally leaves Switzerland’s cherished banking secrecy intact, although many Swiss private bankers say it has been badly damaged.<br /><br />The deal is expected to be based on the existing US-Swiss double taxation agreement of 1996, and therefore not require any changes to Swiss law. As a result, the Swiss cabinet will be able to implement the deal directly, without going through parliament, it said. UBS is also likely to escape having to pay a fine.<br /><br />The deal will probably be signed this week. The Swiss justice department has declined to comment on the deal, noting that the two sides had agreed not to release details of the deal until it is signed. UBS has also declined to comment.<br /><br />The names of those to be disclosed are understood to be those suspected of committing tax fraud under the terms of the double taxation agreement, which obliges Switzerland to provide help if Washington seeks it in a criminal investigation. Accounts below a certain size would not be reported, but this limit would be kept confidential so that account-holders could never be sure whether they were vulnerable. Account-holders threatened with disclosure will be able to challenge the move.