February 25, 2010 / 10:51 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. looking at 7,000 accounts at foreign banks

WASHINGTON/MIAMI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. tax prosecutors are examining more than 7,000 accounts from foreign banks beyond UBS AG UBSN.VX as they cull through data obtained after the high-profile prosecution of the Swiss bank, a top Justice Department lawyer said on Thursday.

“We are now getting documents from foreign banks that have never been produced before,” Kevin Downing, the Justice Department lawyer, told a white collar crime conference in Miami. “In the next couple of years you’ll see the system flooded with these cases.”

The 7,000 plus accounts are from banks in Switzerland and elsewhere, he said.

UBS settled two U.S. government lawsuits against it last year, paying $780 million and agreeing to turn over 4,450 accounts to the government. In addition, 14,700 individuals came forward as part of a U.S. tax amnesty program last year.

The number is now up to more than 16,000, Downing said.

The government has said it will use all the information for leads to find patterns to prosecute more individuals and possibly another foreign bank, although the government has not named any banks.

Downing said that could bring in tens of thousands of cases.

The agreement for UBS to turn over 4,450 client names to the Swiss, and eventually the U.S. government, was derailed after a Swiss court ruled in favor of a UBS client, saying her actions did not constitute tax fraud.

The Swiss government now plans to ask its parliament to approve the deal it struck with Washington so that it is binding law, plugging a legal loophole it says is stopping it from honoring the agreement.

Downing said he was confident the Swiss would eventually turn over the account information. (Reporting by Kim Dixon in Washington and Dan Margolies in Miami; editing by Leslie Adler)

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