Based on the joint statement signed on 29 August 2013 and the unilateral US programme of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that entered into force on the same day, Swiss banks that had reason to believe they may have violated US law (category 2) had to register with the DOJ by 31 December 2013 and fulfil the requirements of the US programme by 30 June 2014. Many Swiss banks seized this opportunity to resolve the tax dispute.
By 27 January 2016, all Swiss banks in category 2 of the US programme had concluded a Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA) with the DOJ in order to resolve the tax dispute with the United States. The NPAs can be consulted on the website of the DOJ.
The Swiss authorities welcome the fact that the resolution of the tax dispute for category 2 banks was carried out in accordance with Switzerland's legal system and sovereignty. In particular, the transfer of client data is not permitted. Such data may be provided only within the scope of administrative assistance based on the double taxation agreement of 1996 and its protocol of 23 September 2009, once the latter has entered into force.
The DoJ stated in a press release dated 29 December 2016 that all applications from category 3 banks which believe they have not violated US tax law have been examined and five Non-Target Letters have been issued. Moreover, the DoJ also stated that none of the banks that operate exclusively on a local basis – assigned to category 4 – have received a Non-Target Letter.
Switzerland hopes that the process for category 1 banks, against which criminal investigations are already being carried out by the DOJ, can now make headway and be completed shortly.
The Swiss authorities are in regular contact with the DOJ, working towards ensuring that Swiss banks are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged relative to US or other banks. Such contact also makes it possible to call for compliance with the Swiss legal system.