Justice Deptartment may drop UBS tax evasion case: report

The logo of UBS bank is seen at its office in Luxembourg, March 17, 2009. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

(Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department may drop a legal case aimed at forcing UBS AG UBSN.VXUBS.N to reveal the names of 52,000 wealthy American clients suspected of offshore tax evasion, the New York Times said, citing a United States official briefed on the matter.

The complaint could be dropped before July 13, when Judge Alan Gold of the United States District Court in Miami, is expected to hold a short trial on the issue, the paper said, adding that a deal could still collapse.

“The Swiss do not want this to be litigated, and it is possible it will settle before then,” the official told the paper.

UBS agreed in February to pay a $780 million fine and disclose the identity of about 300 of its U.S. clients to avert criminal charges that Swiss regulators said would have put the bank’s existence at risk.

U.S. authorities, fearing the agreement might yield very few names, then filed a civil lawsuit against UBS seeking information on as many as 52,000 undeclared accounts.

A UBS spokesman in Hong Kong declined to comment on the report, while the U.S. Justice Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by David Holmes