Swiss banks ready to give up clients to IRS

| 24/10/2011

(Reuters):Swiss banks will probably settle a sweeping US probe of offshore tax evasion by paying billions of dollars and handing over names of thousands of Americans who have secret accounts, according to two people familiar with the matter. U.S. and Swiss officials are concluding negotiations on a civil settlement amid U.S. criminal probes of 11 financial institutions, including Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), suspected of helping American clients hide money from the Internal Revenue Service, according to five people with knowledge of the talks who declined to speak publicly because they are confidential.

Switzerland, the biggest haven for offshore wealth, wants an end to new US probes while preserving its decades-old tradition of bank secrecy, the people said. The U.S. seeks data on Americans who have dodged US taxes and a pledge by Swiss banks to stop helping such clients, according to the people.

The Swiss reached accords this year with Germany and the UK on untaxed assets.

“The Swiss would like to get out of this by paying money, and they’ve done that with other countries,” said tax attorney H. David Rosenbloom of Caplin & Drysdale Chartered in Washington, who isn’t involved in the talks. “For the U.S., it’s not primarily a money question. It’s a matter of making sure the laws apply fairly among taxpayers.”

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