U.S. Wants UBS to Break Swiss Law By Naming Clients, Bank Says
Originally posted on Bloomberg
U.S. efforts to force UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, to disclose the names of 52,000 American customers would require the bank to violate Swiss sovereignty and criminal law, bank lawyers said.
A U.S. lawsuit filed yesterday improperly seeks to enforce summonses from the Internal Revenue Service for the identities of account holders and would trample on Swiss sovereignty, according to a UBS filing yesterday in federal court in Miami.
“Swiss law strictly prohibits UBS and its employees from disclosing to the IRS the account information located in Switzerland that the IRS seeks,” UBS lawyers wrote. “The IRS’s petition does not acknowledge these restrictions and instead simply ignores the existence of Swiss law and sovereignty.”
The filing is the bank’s first legal response to a lawsuit that would enhance tax collection by striking a blow at historic Swiss bank secrecy. The U.S. sued one day after Zurich-based UBS agreed to pay $780 million and disclose the names of about 250 customers to defer prosecution on a charge that it conspired to help wealthy Americans evade U.S. taxes over several years.
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