December 2, 2009 / 9:22 PM / 8 years ago

Canada says could sue UBS over list of clients

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, which is trying to clamp down on tax evasion, is prepared to take Swiss bank UBS to court if necessary to compel it to hand over details of Canadians who might be account holders, a government minister said on Wednesday.

<p>A traffic sign is seen next to an UBS logo in Zurich August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>

Ottawa has been pressing UBS since early September for the names, but has had no success.

National Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said 90 people have voluntarily disclosed their UBS accounts to Ottawa. The government has reached deals with 44 of them, raising an extra C$15.3 million ($14.6 million) in tax revenue in the process.

“We are still discussing with UBS authorities to try to obtain that list of Canadians who are on their list, who have (accounts in) tax havens abroad,” he told reporters.

“It’s not easy. If we realize that it won’t be possible to obtain it, if they just try to obtain time, we will go (to) court to obtain this list.”

A UBS spokesman said the bank did not have a comment on the matter.

Blackburn did not say at what point the government would end the talks with UBS and go to court.

Earlier this year a high-profile U.S. lawsuit against UBS AG prompted the bank to agree to promise to reveal the names of 4,450 client accounts held by Americans.

Offshore private banking involves managing the wealth of rich clients from a foreign location. Some have exploited the system to avoid paying taxes, especially if transactions are carried out in traditional banking secrecy strongholds.

Last month U.S. officials said some 14,700 rich Americans, worried about a crackdown on offshore tax cheats, had turned themselves in under a government amnesty program.

($1=$1.05 Canadian)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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