Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Swiss to Reveal UBS Accounts to Settle U.S. Tax Fight

The legal battle between the U.S. and the Swiss looks like it may finally be coming to an end, according to a new story. As part of the deal, Switzerland has agreed to hand over 4,450 UBS AG bank accounts to U.S. authorities. This historic deal represents a new direction for IRS enforcement, and will likely result in millions of dollars in federal revenue.

With Switzerland's famed banking secrecy under fire, the Swiss have also agreed to process requests by the United States seeking information from its banks besides UBS about account holders who may have tried to evade U.S. taxes.

"This announcement today should send a signal - no matter what institution you're with, the IRS is willing to pursue both the institution and the individual," Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman told reporters on Wednesday.

The accounts were at one time worth $18 billion, Shulman said, though he could not provide a current figure.

U.S. authorities would not name any other foreign banks under probe but the IRS is expected to use the Swiss deal as a template to pursue further prosecutions.

"The IRS is now gaining institutional skill and knowledge in how to pursue these types of cases and they're going to use that. This is, I believe, the beginning and not the end," said Peter Hardy, a former federal prosecutor and specialist in white-collar crime at Post & Schell in Philadelphia.

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