Swiss parliament’s upper house approved a bill allowing the country’s 300 banks to cooperate with the U.S. to help catch tax evaders.
In a second round of voting, the upper house voted for the measure 26 to 18, affirming its verdict of last week. In the interim, the lower house rejected further debates of the bill, potentially setting it up for derailment. The two chambers must reconcile their differences by the end of the three-week parliamentary session on June 21. The matter now goes back to the lower house, which is scheduled to vote this afternoon.
The Swiss government wants to prevent the indictment of another of the country’s bank. Wegelin & Co. was indicted last year and pleaded guilty in January to helping U.S. taxpayers hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service. The bank had taken over clients from UBS AG, which avoided prosecution in 2009 by admitting it aided tax evasion, paying $780 million and handing over client names.
The bill would allow Swiss banks to hand over data to the U.S. and negotiate individual settlements. Parliamentarians have criticized it because the terms of the agreement were dictated by the U.S. and haven’t been made public.