Swiss banks thought they had a good deal. Give up their client names and avoid prosecution by the U.S. Wow, talk about running for the hills and ditching your clients. But, not so fast say Swiss lawmakers. Lawmakers are telling Swiss banks not to be too quick in giving up Americans with bank accounts. The Wall Street Journal’s John Letzing reports:
Swiss lawmakers dealt a serious blow Tuesday to a plan that could enable the country’s banks to avoid the threat of prosecution in the U.S. by collectively coming clean about their dealings with suspected American tax evaders.
The lower house of Parliament voted 126-67 against even considering the plan, which would allow banks to skirt Switzerland’s banking secrecy law and hand information to U.S. authorities about the undeclared holdings of their American clients, as well as the bank employees who assisted those clients.
The vote sends the measure back to the upper house, which had approved it last week, for further debate and another show of hands as early as Wednesday. A reversal there would mean the legislation’s demise—and could lead to severe legal complications for Swiss banks in U.S. courts. Approval would send it back to the lower house.
The Swiss cabinet introduced the plan last month. Critics called it a violation of Swiss sovereignty.