Swiss court rules in favor of American account holder

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An American client of Switzerland-based bank, UBS, has won an appeal in Swiss court on Friday against providing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States with relevant information about his offshore accounts.

Entrance of the UBS office in New York, New York.
Image: Daniel Torres Bonatto.

The Swiss court ruled that the man's failure to complete an IRS tax form, no matter how much money it pertained to, was not in itself fraudulent behavior. The case calls into question an agreement made between Switzerland and the United States last year in which Swiss tax authorities would supply the IRS with information on nearly 4,500 suspected tax evaders and their respective accounts.

A further twenty-five similar cases are still pending; the verdicts of which may be influenced by this precedent-setting case.

The Swiss government will meet next Wednesday to discuss how to better implement last year's Swiss-US banking accord. As it pertains to the case at hand, if they so choose, Swiss tax officials can file a further appeal petitioning the court's decision.

UBS and the US Department of Justice both have yet to comment on the matter.

According to the US government, UBS is "hiding" over US$15 billion in assets on behalf of American account holders.