Reuters has this posting. Katharina Bart, Swiss upper house backs U.S. tax deal to protect banks (Reuters 1/12/13), here. Excerpts are :
The protection of client information has helped to make Switzerland the world's biggest offshore financial center, with $2 trillion in assets. But that haven has come under fire as other countries have sought to plug budget deficits by clamping down on tax evasion, with authorities probing Swiss banks in Germany and France as well as the United States.
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The bill would allow banks to hand over information and strike settlement deals with U.S. prosecutors, which one lawmaker called a "choice between the plague and cholera." Such deals would avert the threat of criminal prosecution, but are still expected to include heavy fines that could cost the industry as much as $10 billion.
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The legislation approved by the upper house would pave the way for Swiss banks to disclose their U.S. dealings, including names of bank staff and third parties such as accountants and tax lawyers who helped Americans to evade taxes.
Banks will still not be allowed to hand over client names - protected by the Swiss secrecy law of 1934 - but the proposal, valid for a year only, would allow banks to hand over so much information on customers' behavior that U.S. officials should be able to identify American tax dodgers.
The Swiss government has warned that the United States could indict another bank, a move seen as the death knell for virtually any business. Lawmakers were swayed by concern U.S. prosecutors could indict one of the state-backed cantonal banks in their constituency.