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No breakthrough in Swiss-US tax dispute despite talks

Talks between senior U.S. and Swiss officials about a dispute over unpaid taxes on accounts held in Swiss banks led to no breakthroughs, Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said on Saturday.

Widmer-Schlumpf, who is also Switzerland's finance minister, said she had discussed the disagreement with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder during her visit to Washington for meetings of the International Monetary Fund, but provided no details.

"We're back on track" after an impasse and hope to resolve the dispute before the end of the year, she said.

A global crackdown on tax evasion by cash-strapped governments in recent years has chipped away Switzerland's tradition of banking secrecy, which helped it build up a $2 trillion offshore wealth management industry.

Eleven Swiss banks - including Credit Suisse and Julius Baer - are under investigation by the United States for aiding U.S. citizens suspected of dodging taxes.

Switzerland wants the investigations dropped, in exchange for payment of fines and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S. bank clients. It also wants a deal to shield the remainder of its 300 or so banks from U.S. prosecution.

Berne has already taken steps to make sure its bank clients pay their home country taxes and has struck deals with Germany and Britain to allow citizens of those two countries to pay tax without revealing their identities.

Source: Reuters
Date: 22.04.2012 [318]

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