Swiss banks & US law: lower house committee says no

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss government’s efforts to push an urgent law through parliament, to allow Swiss banks to sign up to a programme set out by the US government, suffered a setback late Thursday. The lower house committee charged with studying it voted 15-9 against the house debating the law. The sticking point was the lack of detail about the American proposal and what would happen if banks under investigation by the US Department of Justice refused to accept it.

The committee’s vote carries no weight for the full Conseil national (lower house) vote, which takes place next Tuesday, but as RTS public broadcasting notes, “it’s not a good starting point”.

The debate Tuesday, if the lower house agrees to debate the law, could highlight differences between the two houses. These would need to be agreed upon before the law could be passed. A majority would have to agree that it is an “urgent” law that could be applied rapidly.

On the other hand, if either house rejects the law twice it will be dead.