Swiss Parliament Kills US-Backed Bank and Tax Legislation

 @natrudy
on June 19 2013 1:19 PM
Switzerland
Swiss bank UBS Reuters

The lower house of the Swiss Parliament voted 123-63 Wednesday to reject legislation backed by the United States that would have let banks hand over information to the U.S. authorities on certain clients, reports Bloomberg.

The legislation aimed to resolve tax disputes with the U.S. over wealthy tax evaders using Swiss bank accounts.

The vote came just one day after the lower house rejected the measure on Tuesday, leading to a second vote and a final resolution between the two Swiss parliamentary chambers on Wednesday.

The Swiss government backed the legislation earlier this year, and warned that U.S. prosecutors could bring further indictments of Swiss banks if no legislative solution is reached.

Swiss banks also backed the legislation, according to Bloomberg, with the Swiss Bankers Association saying that this latest decision leaves the future of the Swiss banking industry and economy in dangerous uncertainty.

In a statement, the association urged the Swiss Cabinet to take action to implement the legislation as best it could via executive orders, without regard to the Parliament’s decision.

“Switzerland must not take the risk of a further indictment of a bank lightly,” read the statement.

A spokesman for the Swiss Department of Finance told the IBTimes that the Swiss government has acknowledged a request from lawmakers to resolve the U.S.-Swiss tax dispute as best it can.

"The Federal Council [Swiss Cabinet] will do all it can within the scope of its legal powers to allow the banks to resolve the tax dispute," said spokesman Daniel Saameli.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment to the IBTimes.

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