January 28, 2012 / 2:40 PM / 6 years ago

Swiss finmin: need U.S. tax deal to shield banks

DAVOS, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The break-up of Switzerland's oldest bank Wegelin on Friday shows the need to settle a dispute with U.S. authorities over tax cheats hiding cash in secret Swiss accounts, the finance minister said on Saturday.

"It is very regrettable," Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told journalists at the World Economic Forum of the decision by Wegelin to break itself up in the face of possible indictment on charges the bank enabled wealthy Americans to evade taxes.

"This development shows how important it is that we come to solutions in the discussions, negotiations with the United States which hopefully prevent other banks getting into a similar situation," she said.

The U.S. Department of Justice is probing 11 Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and Basler Kantonalbank. (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Ben Hirschler; For full Reuters coverage from Davos, go to: www.reuters.com/davos)

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