8 Aug 2009

UBS deal over tax evaders hits snag

1:34 pm on 8 August 2009

Swiss bank UBS has failed to settle United States charges of helping wealthy American customers dodge taxes, setting the stage for at least another five days of tense negotiations.

The US government is seeking the identities of thousands of wealthy American clients of UBS suspected of using offshore accounts at the bank to conceal assets and evade US taxes.

The parties had been widely expected to announce a final settlement. It was not immediately clear what obstacles remained, although Swiss media reports said one sticking point was how to get the data about UBS clients across to investigators fast.

Normally, any transmission of financial data from Switzerland to the United States involves potentially lengthy court appeals, and the Justice Department is believed to be looking for ways to cut down on such delays.

The trial has been delayed for five days to give negotiators time to strike a definitive out-of-court settlement.

The case has rippled across the global offshore banking industry because it marks the biggest legal challenge ever to Switzerland's bank secrecy.