ZURICH Dec 11 Bank Coop on Wednesday
became the latest Swiss bank to say it would work with U.S.
officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading taxes
through hidden offshore accounts.
The Basel-based bank said it had decided to participate in
the scheme - brokered by the Swiss and U.S. governments in
August - to make amends for aiding tax evasion, as staying out
of the programme was too risky.
The deal between the United States and Switzerland is part
of a U.S. drive to lift the veil on Swiss bank secrecy. Banks
had until Monday to inform the Swiss regulator whether they
would take part in the scheme.
The programme, which lapses at year-end, requires banks to
hand out some previously hidden information and face penalties
of up to 50 percent of assets they managed on behalf of wealthy
Americans. If the banks shun the U.S. offer, individual firms
and senior staff risk criminal prosecution.
Bank Coop, which is majority-owned by Basler Kantonalbank
, said it had only a few customers who were based in the
United States and whose assets amounted to less than 0.3 percent
of its clients' assets under management.
It has made a provision of 9 million Swiss francs to cover
the expected costs of taking part in the U.S. programme, as well
as any possible fine.