GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Few details have surfaced from the discussions between the US and Switzerland about a new “global solution for all banks“ that would end serial tax evasion investigations by US authorities, with both sides pledged to silence while negotiations are underway.
The head of the Swiss Bankers Association gave a rare glimpse into the talks when he said in Geneva Tuesday 22 November that his group’s role is to find a solution for “the rest of the financial sector” but not for the 11 banks under investigation by the US Justice Department.
The small group of banks, which includes Credit Suisse, is suspected by the US of helping American clients evade taxes by hiding money offshore.
Claude-Alain Margelisch, chief executive of the Swiss Bankers Association, qualified discussions with US officials as “productive”.
His group approached its members, he says, “to find solutions. I can say we’ve made progress.”
His remarks came in the context of a presentation to the Swiss Foreign Press Association on key banking events of the past year. The agreements with the UK and Germany were major accomplishments, he said, but these are not yet ratified and “we have to convince all parties” that the treaties are a compromise and the best way forward.
The group’s priority with the agreements is to see them ratified, he says. “Our view is that there can be no renegotiation”, as suggested by some German parliament members who are opposed to the treaty.
Swiss banks want to “draw a line under the past but protect the future,” he told the reporters. “Our strategy is clear: we want the clients’ [business] to remain in Switzerland and we want this business done correctly.”