TIMELINE-US, Swiss settle UBS tax dispute

Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:32am EDT

Aug 19 (Reuters) - Switzerland will hand over details of about 4,450 UBS (UBSN.VX) (UBS.N) bank accounts to U.S. authorities, settling a tax dispute that has threatened Swiss banking secrecy, the two governments said on Wednesday. [ID:nLJ718259]

Following is a timeline of recent events in the UBS tax dispute:

June 19 -- A former UBS banker who once smuggled a client's diamonds into the U.S. in a toothpaste tube pleads guilty to helping a billionaire hide $200 million from U.S. tax authorities, part of a broader tax evasion probe of UBS.

Nov. 12 -- Raoul Weil, head of UBS' wealth management business, is charged with conspiring to help thousands of wealthy Americans hide $20 billion of assets from U.S. tax authorities in Swiss bank accounts.

Feb. 18 -- UBS agrees to pay $780 million and identify certain U.S. clients to settle criminal fraud charges that it assisted rich Americans to evade taxes.

Feb. 19 -- U.S. tax authorities say they are still pursuing a civil lawsuit seeking to access details on 52,000 UBS clients.

Feb. 20 -- UBS warns it could go out of business if it complies with an order to reveal the names of suspected U.S. tax dodgers and would require it to violate Swiss law in a manner that would expose it to penalties.

March 13 -- Switzerland agrees to make concessions on bank secrecy amid a global crackdown on tax evasion.

April 2 -- U.S. authorities arrest and charge an accountant in Florida in the first of what they say could be a series of tax evasion prosecutions of American clients of UBS.

July 28 -- A U.S. client of UBS pleads guilty to using Swiss bank accounts to hide money from the U.S. taxman and says a Swiss government official received $45,000 to help cover up the fraud. Swiss prosecutors launch an investigation the next day.

July 31 -- A U.S. Justice Department attorney says the U.S. and UBS have reached an agreement in principle to settle their dispute. Aug. 18 -- A filing in a U.S. federal court shows U.S. authorities are criminally investigating more than 150 U.S. clients of UBS.

Aug 19 -- The Swiss government says it will hand over details of about 4,450 bank accounts to U.S. authorities as part of the deal to settle the UBS tax case.

-- Switzerland says the agreement applies only to UBS and that the country's bank secrecy is upheld.

-- Swiss justice minister says if UBS had not reached agreement to hand over client data, it would have faced high fines that would have threatened its existence.

-- Switzerland has agreed to review and process requests by the U.S. seeking information from Swiss banks besides UBS about account holders who may have tried to evade U.S. taxes, the U.S. government says.

(Reporting by Sam Cage and Lisa Jucca; Additional writing by David Cutler, Jijo Jacob, Carl Bagh; editing by Simon Jessop)

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