Swiss bank UBS may hand over only a small amount of bank data as part of a U.S. settlement because the Internal Revenue Service has succeeded in cracking down on tax evaders, a radio station reported.
World Radio Switzerland, a Geneva-based English language station, quoted U.S. ambassador to Switzerland Donald Beyer as saying more than 9,000 Americans had been persuaded to talk about their Swiss bank accounts under a U.S. tax amnesty.
In the case of UBS we actually got a good compromise, where UBS agreed to share the names of up to 4,450 American citizens with bank accounts here. But only after an amnesty program in the United States, Beyer told the radio station.
That amnesty program, by the way, has already turned up more than 9,000 Americans who have come forward voluntarily to talk about their Swiss bank accounts. So I guess our hope, once we finally see the numbers, is that the actual number of bank records that will be shared will be very, very small.
UBS declined to comment.
Under the amnesty program that began in September, tax dodgers can declare offshore accounts and income, pay reduced fines and receive immunity from criminal prosecution. In mid-October, some 7,500 wealthy Americans had turned over information about hidden overseas assets.
Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on investigations, has estimated the U.S. loses $100 billion annually from international tax evasion.
The government's investigation of UBS is at the heart of the U.S. offshore tax effort. The company earlier this year settled a criminal probe by paying $780 million and admitting it helped U.S. citizens evade taxes.
After months of tortuous negotiations that involved the Swiss government and challenged the country's tradition of banking secrecy, UBS agreed in August to disclose the names of 4,450 American holders of secret accounts at UBS in a settlement that pierced Switzerland's prized banking secrecy.
The Swiss government is due to hold a news conference on Tuesday to outline the criteria for transfer of UBS client data to U.S. tax authorities.