ZURICH, June 21 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities could be willing to make a deal in a legal case against Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBSUBSN.VX(UBS.N), after the countries agreed a double taxation treaty last week, the Swiss president said on Sunday.
The U.S. government is suing UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager in terms of assets, to retrieve thousands of names of American clients who allegedly stashed money in secret accounts in contravention of U.S. tax laws.
“We agreed the double taxation treaty without compromises and there are background activities in the UBS case,” Hans-Rudolf Merz was quoted as saying in Swiss paper SonntagsZeitung.
The new double taxation treaty was a key step towards Switzerland’s removal from a list of tax havens. [ID:nLJ871770]
Merz reiterated that the Swiss government could have trouble getting new tax agreements ratified in a possible referendum without the U.S. giving ground on the UBS case.
“UBS also has to make its contribution and the USA will move,” Merz said.
UBS, which is losing clients because of the bad publicity, is fighting the civil suit and says compliance would require its employees to break Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws.
Under pressure from the G20, Switzerland agreed in March to relax its prized bank secrecy and agreed for the first time to share certain bank client data with other jurisdictions once bilateral tax treaties are ratified. Last week’s deal with the U.S. means Switzerland has agreed six of the 12 new tax treaties it needs to comply with OECD standards. Further agreements have been reached with France, Denmark, Norway, Mexico and Luxembourg, Merz said. (Reporting by Jason Rhodes; Editing by Rupert Winchester)