Swiss banks may need to hand over employee names to US

ZURICH (AFP) - Swiss banks could be forced to hand over the names of their employees under a prospective deal between Switzerland and Washington that aims to end a dispute over alleged tax evasion, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

"All the banks with significant business in the United States could be required to submit their correspondence to American authorities, as well as the names of their employees," the daily Tages Anzeiger said.

Details of a planned deal between Switzerland and the United States have been kept under wraps by Swiss government negotiators, but reputed clauses have filtered out in the Alpine country's media.

The Tages Anzeiger said that an agreement was also on the cards between the banks and their employees' association to compensate individuals whose identities are revealed to US authorities.

Washington has repeatedly accused Swiss banks of complicity in tax evasion, since they hold billions of dollars belonging to American citizens, who have taken advantage of Switzerland's long-cherished bank secrecy laws to avoid declaring their holdings to the US revenue service.

Swiss media have reported that under a compromise hammered out by negotiators, Switzerland's banking sector could have to pay out a fine totalling 10 billion Swiss francs.

Previous reports have said that the 300 banks in Switzerland would be classed according to their level of alleged complicity in tax evasion.

The dozen banks seen as the main perpetrators would reportedly be forced to make a case-by-case deal with the United States, while a second category, comprising those with American clients but which have not yet faced legal action in the United States, would have to pay a fine.

Besides taking on US tax dodgers and Swiss banks directly, Washington also succeeded in April 2012 in pressuring some banks to hand over the names of 10,000 employees with American clients.

The banks gave the names to US authorities after a green light from the Swiss government, which has faced criticism from banking sector employees for potentially exposing them to charges of abetting tax evasion.

The new deal would be far larger in scope.