Swiss Lawmakers Allow Release of Alleged U.S. Tax Cheaters' Info

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UBSThe Swiss Parliament gave final approval Thursday to the country's closely watched treaty with the U.S., paving the way for the release of account information on thousands of alleged U.S. tax cheaters, according to a report in The New York Times.

As a result, UBS (UBS), Switzerland's largest bank, will comply with demands from U.S. authorities and turn over account information for 4,450 of its U.S. clients.

But whether the U.S. Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission will find anything meaningful in the account information is yet to be seen because this treaty affects only account holders who aren't challenging the data transfer. The Swiss government is expected to make the info available transfer by its August deadline.

"UBS welcomes today's Swiss Parliamentary approval of the U.S.-Swiss Government Agreement. This vote is an important step to support the resolution at the government level," UBS says in a statement.

Skipping a National Referendum

The bank adds that it remains focused on complying with its settlement agreement with U.S. regulators. UBS paid a $780 million fine and submitted several hundred names of its clients as part of a DOJ settlement, the Times report notes.

Earlier in the week, the lower house of the Swiss Parliament approved the treaty but added the provision that its citizens would be allowed to vote on the agreement via a referendum. But a referendum would have delayed approval of the treaty and could have forced UBS to miss its August deadline.

The Parliament's upper house voted on the matter Thursday, and the two sides agreed to do away with a national referendum, even though Swiss polls indicated opposition to releasing the client information. Swiss officials may feel the brunt of public opinion when the next election rolls around.
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