Barclays says its Swiss private bank is part of US tax deal

ZURICH Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:18pm EST

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ZURICH Feb 11 (Reuters) - Barclays private bank in Switzerland became the latest bank to say it would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes through hidden offshore accounts.

The British lender is a rare foreign bank in Switzerland to admit to signing up to a scheme brokered by the Swiss and U.S. governments in August in order to make amends for aiding tax evasion.

"Barclays Bank (Suisse) SA and Barclays Bank plc Geneva Branch are participating in the programme, which requires a structured review of U.S. accounts," Barclays said in its annual report, disclosed on Tuesday along with 12,000 jobs cuts.

"This review is ongoing and the outcome of the review will determine whether any agreement will be entered into or sanction applied to Barclays Bank (Suisse) SA and Barclays Bank plc Geneva Branch."

Barclays could not immediately be reached for further comment.

The deadline to complete the review is April 30, Barclays said. It did not elaborate on whether its American clients hid assets through offshore accounts in Switzerland.

The programme, which requires the banks to hand out some previously hidden information and potentially face penalties of up to 50 percent of assets they managed on behalf of U.S. clients, has already brought a host of Swiss banks to come forward.

HSBC Holdings PLC's Swiss arm is in the crosshairs of a U.S. probe, which also targets Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and unlisted rivals such as Pictet. However, attention has since shifted to the wider Swiss banking industry under the program.

The U.S. Justice Department said recently it had received 106 requests from Swiss entities to participate in a settlement programme aimed at resolving the matter, but did not disclose specifics.

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