NEW YORK, July 8 The Swiss Parliament may not
approve a double taxation treaty between Switzerland and the
United States if the legal action against Swiss bank UBS
UBSN.VX is not resolved, Swiss minister for economic affairs
Leuthard said on Wednesday.
"Chances of approval (by the Swiss parliament) will be
small if the legal action against Switzerland's biggest bank,
UBS, will not be solved," Leuthard said in prepared remarks
before the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in New York.
U.S. authorities have accused Swiss bank UBS of helping
rich clients to hide money in secret Swiss accounts, and the
case has damaged the UBS brand.
Switzerland and the United States reached an agreement last
month on a double taxation treaty, which was a key step towards
removal from an OECD list of tax havens.
Switzerland, whose private banks manage around $2 trillion
of foreign wealth, aims to secure 12 new bilateral tax deals by
the end of 2009 which could enable it to be removed from an
OECD "grey list" of states which need to improve tax
cooperation and avoid possible sanctions from G20 nations.
But the impasse on UBS could be snag on the tax deal's
approval by Parliament.
"There are established procedures and authorised channels
for sharing information," Leuthard said. "This unilateral
attempt to compel the release of information is not covered by
any existing international treaty and it would moreover force
Swiss companies to break Swiss law."
Swiss law prohibits banks passing on client information to
Leuthard stressed that Switzerland is keen on a "mutually
satisfying conclusion of this matter (regarding UBS)" and that
she was hoping for an "extra-judicial settlement".
She also emphasised Switzerland "is not and has never been
a tax haven." She added that the country has an "open and
transparent" tax regime, which is in strong contrast to actual
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Chizu