Swiss banks ‘leak’ info to US

Monday, 12 September 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

GENEVA: Swiss banks have “allegedly” begun providing information to Washington on accounts held by US citizens, Swiss media reported Saturday.

Local daily reported that US authorities had “allegedly” received information from Swiss banks on their American customers, without citing sources.

It said that on Friday nine banks “allegedly ... provided the requested information”.

Another media outlet said that Credit Suisse had earlier in the week provided to Washington information on US clients.

“The Credit Suisse banker responsible for the negotiations took a plane for Washington and submitted the information,” it said.

The local daily also said that Switzerland’s government has “partially” agreed to a Washington ultimatum that information on US nationals who have money in the country be handed over.

It said that Swiss authorities, in a confidential letter to 10 local banks said the US request could “be partially agreed upon”, but that the data transfer would have to be done by the banks themselves, and not the government.

Furthermore, the letter said the banks would need to provide data on banking activities only going back to September 30, 2009.

Prior to that date, information should only be provided “if there is a violation of US legislation or obvious tax fraud”, the newspaper said.

Switzerland’s President Micheline Calmy-Rey told reporters that Swiss authorities had not provided the names of any clients of Swiss banks to US tax authorities.

“For Switzerland, any exchange of information on client data is only possible if it is based on existing legislation,” she said, referring to the double taxation treaty reached in 2009 with the United States.

Last week, local weekly reported that Washington had asked for detailed information on US nationals who might have improperly hidden money in Switzerland, basing its report on a purported letter from the US deputy attorney general James Cole dated August 31, addressed to Swiss authorities.

US authorities want all data concerning private customers and US foundations which have deposited at least $50,000 (35,300 euros) in Switzerland between 2002 and July 2010, it said.