Tax dispute between Swiss banks and United States: Federal Council sets out parameters for cooperation

Bern, 03.07.2013 - At its meeting today, the Federal Council set out the parameters within the scope of existing law for cooperation between Swiss banks and the US authorities.

Parliament in its summer session did not consider the urgent Federal Act on Measures to Facilitate the Resolution of the Tax Dispute between Swiss Banks and the United States. Nonetheless, at the same time the National Council and Council of States each approved an identical statement in which they come to the conclusion that the Swiss banks should put the past to rest in the tax dispute with the United States. In the statement, they recognised the need to find a swift solution and conveyed the expectation that the Federal Council should take every measure within the scope of existing law to enable the banks to cooperate with the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Today the Federal Council set out the parameters for cooperation between the Swiss banks and the US authorities to resolve the tax dispute, within the scope of existing law and particularly data protection and employment law provisions. On the basis of these parameters, banks will have the option of applying for individual authorisation based on Article 271 of the Swiss Criminal Code.

As was the case in the urgent federal act, the personal rights of potentially affected employees and third parties must be taken into account by the obligation to provide information and the right to information. For current and former employees provision has also been made for expanded welfare obligations and adequate protection against discrimination as conditions for approval. Beneficiary banks featuring in the so-called leaver lists are also considered to be affected third parties. The leaver lists contain non-personalised data in connection with the closure of accounts and the associated transfer of funds to another bank in Switzerland or abroad. Client data is not covered by the authorisation in accordance with Article 271 of the Criminal Code. This data can only be supplied within the scope of existing agreements with the USA in the area of double taxation via administrative assistance.  

All of the banks against which criminal proceedings have already been initiated are reliant on the authorisations. Moreover, further talks are being conducted with the DoJ on the basis of the parameters approved concerning the start of a unilateral US programme to reach an arrangement for the past for Swiss banks against which no criminal proceedings have been initiated. Participation in the programme for these banks would also require authorisation within the scope of the approved parameters.

Address for enquiries

Roland Meier, Media Spokesperson FDF
tel. +41 31 322 60 86; roland.meier@gs-efd.admin.


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Finance

Federal Department of Finance