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Swiss banks urge US government to amend conditions to bank amnesty

Monday, 27 October, 2014

The US Justice Department (USDoJ) has added new conditions to the amnesty programme offered to Swiss banks suspected of helping their clients evade US tax.

More than 100 banks enrolled in the amnesty when it was announced in August last year. The programme offers them immunity from prosecution in return for their co-operation with the USDoJ, and the payment of financial penalties.

Lawyers representing 73 of the banks have sent a letter to the USDoJ complaining that the latest version of the amnesty terms, circulated on 22 September, includes new demands that were not in the original agreement.

Participating banks are now required to 'cooperate fully with any other domestic or foreign law enforcement agency' in any investigation, and to 'share material with governments other than the US'. It also insists that banks must disclose information about their parent companies.

The banks' letter of protest says these terms go beyond what they anticipated when signing up, and urges that they are withdrawn. The requirement to cooperate with foreign governments 'turns a programme specifically focused on US tax issues into a global cooperation agreement without any safeguards or guarantees of appropriate consideration of the banks' cooperation', according to the 11-page letter, which is signed by 18 law firms representing the banks.

Sources