Switzerland denies banking deal in principle reached with U.S.

Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:09am EDT
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ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government on Sunday denied a newspaper report that the country had reached a deal in principle with the United States over undeclared funds hidden by wealthy Americans in Swiss offshore bank accounts.

"There is no agreed framework. The negotiations for an industry-wide deal to enable all Swiss banks to draw a line under the matter are ongoing," Swiss government spokesman Mario Tuor said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Tuor was responding to a report in Sunday's edition of weekly Neue Zuercher Zeitung am Sonntag which said that, instead of an industry-wide settlement for the Swiss private banking industry, banks including Credit Suisse CSGN.VX and Julius Baer BAER.VX as well as all others with U.S. clients would negotiate individual penalties with U.S. officials.

The NZZ am Sonntag cited undisclosed sources in its story.

The Swiss government's comments on Sunday, however, left the door open to an alternative to an industry-wide settlement.

"The federal council will explore possible solutions in its regular meetings with bank representatives," Tuor said, without elaborating.

The plan outlined by the NZZ am Sonntag would see each Swiss bank with U.S. clients negotiating individual settlements with the United States for its role in hiding untaxed money.

Most of the 13 banks in the crosshairs of U.S. justice officials, which include Credit Suisse and Julius Baer, have said they are already in settlement negotiations.

What is new is that the remainder of Switzerland's more than 300 banks with U.S. clients would have to seek a U.S. settlement individually, according to the NZZ.   Continued...

A logo of the Swiss private bank Julius Baer is seen at the company's headquarters in Zurich, February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer