* Must find solution under existing laws-bankers group
* US should follow German, UK example on tax deals
* Banks in focus include Credit Suisse, Baer, Wegelin
By Emma Thomasson
ZURICH, Sept 5 Switzerland must solve a dispute
with the United States over wealthy citizens using secret Swiss
accounts to dodge taxes under existing laws and should continue
to protect bank secrecy, the Swiss Bankers Association head said
The association's president, Patrick Odier, made the
comments after newspapers reported on Sunday that the United
States has given an ultimatum to Switzerland, saying that unless
detailed information on tax evaders using Swiss accounts is
handed over this week Credit Suisse and nine other
banks will face charges.
"The cross-border problems with the United States can and
will be solved. But the United States must understand that Swiss
laws must be respected," Odier told a news conference.
"Bank client secrecy protects wealth and does not hide it.
This protection remains important."
Odier said Switzerland must avoid a repeat of the deal it
made to settle a U.S. investigation against UBS ,
allowing it to bend the country's banking secrecy laws and
reveal the details of around 4,450 clients to avoid criminal
He said an accord should be possible under the terms of the
existing UBS deal and a new double taxation agreement with the
United States that Switzerland approved in 2009 but is still
awaiting ratification by the U.S. Senate.
"The United States should take note of the example of the
tax agreements with Germany and Britain. Bilateral problems
between friendly states should be able to be solved in an
amicable way," Odier said.
Last month Switzerland struck deals with Germany and Britain
to tax money kept by their residents in secret Swiss accounts
and also introduce a withholding tax on future interest earned,
a proposal rejected by Washington.
A long tradition of bank secrecy has helped Switzerland
build up a $2 trillion offshore financial industry, but the
country has agreed in recent years to do more to help hunt tax
cheats amid a global crackdown on tax havens.
The government is keen to find a solution that would avoid
needing the approval of parliament which only reluctantly agreed
to the UBS treaty under emergency law last year.
But the United States seems to be pushing for more than
current Swiss law would allow, seeking details of all U.S.
clients with accounts worth at least $50,000 between 2002 and
2010 at banks including Credit Suisse, private banks Julius Baer
and Wegelin as well as the Zurich and Basel cantonal
Two Swiss Sunday papers said a letter sent by U.S. Deputy
Attorney General James Cole on Aug. 31 demands detailed figures
on tax evasion at Credit Suisse by Tuesday.
Mario Tuor, a spokesman for the Swiss department for
international financial affairs, would only say that talks are
underway and that Bern wants a solution based on the existing
($1=0.783 Swiss francs)
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)