Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has called on the United States to respect bilateral accords during its probe into alleged tax evasion at the Swiss bank UBS.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in Rüschlikon on Monday, Widmer-Schlumpf said it was "unacceptable" for the US to push for the release of confidential bank data related to 52,000 customers at the bank.
Swiss-US agreements should be respected even if the bank had committed inexcusable errors in its dealings with American clients, she told the meeting, adding that the request could have a detrimental effect on Swiss laws.
"We are resisting any pressure," she said, noting that there were established procedures and channels for the exchange of information on tax matters.
She added that Switzerland had initialled a new double taxation agreement last week, a move that would enable Switzerland to be cleared from the grey list of uncooperative tax havens prepared by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been seeking information on 52,000 UBS account holders in an effort to find tax cheats. UBS has so far refused to release the information because it would violate Swiss law. However, it has proposed giving the IRS banking data on some of its clients but with no names or account numbers attached.
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