US call to Swiss over tax dodgers

City A.M. Reporter
THE US has written to Switzerland to demand it hands over detailed information this week on its citizens using Swiss accounts to dodge tax or see Credit Suisse and nine other banks face charges, it was reported yesterday.

The letter, quoted by two Swiss newspapers, was sent by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole on 31 August and demands detailed figures on tax evasion at Credit Suisse by tomorrow and also seeks information from nine other smaller Swiss banks.

In the letter, Cole demands that Switzerland quickly deliver a significant number of client accounts, the SonntagsZeitung reported, adding that US authorities are also ready to examine a Swiss offer to settle the dispute.

Mario Tuor, a spokesman for the Swiss department for international financial affairs, would only say that Switzerland was in contact with the US but declined to comment on the letter. “We are seeking a solution on the basis of existing laws,” he said.

Switzerland last month made a proposal to try to kickstart talks to settle its impasse with the US, offering to hand over data on groups of clients under a pending new bilateral tax treaty despite strict bank secrecy.

Bank secrecy has helped Switzerland build up a $2 trillion (£1.2 trillion) offshore financial industry, but the country has agreed in recent years to do more to help hunt tax cheats amid a global crackdown on tax havens.

The US is pushing for Switzerland to hand over thousands more bank client names as it did last year when it allowed UBS to bend bank secrecy and reveal the details of around 4,450 clients to avoid criminal charges.