US probes UBS clients as Bern prepares stake sale

City A.M. Reporter
MORE than 150 American clients of UBS are being investigated by the US authorities for suspected tax evasion, federal prosecutors said yesterday, as analysts predicted the Swiss state would soon sell its stake in the troubled investment bank.<br /><br />A court filing said that the 150 people under investigation were on a list of 250 names handed to the authorities by UBS earlier this year.<br /><br />The news emerged as analysts predicted that the Swiss state is planning to offload its nine per cent stake in the UBS as early as this week, when a settlement with the US is expected to be reached.<br /><br />Analysts said yesterday that reaching a deal in the tax case would signal stability for UBS and remove an important obstacle to the Swiss government offloading its investment.<br /><br />&ldquo;A settlement with the US government was one of the key issues, so if it comes it should not take too long for the government to convert and place its shares,&rdquo; said Cheuvreux analyst Christian Stark.<br /><br />Industry insiders expect a deal to be announced as soon as today, following the first regular meeting of the Swiss cabinet following the summer recess.<br /><br />UBS is expected to hand over details of around 5,000 client accounts as part of the deal.