Offshore Accounts: Swiss Parliament Votes to Allow Disclosure of UBS Accounts
June 15 - In what is seen as a potentially fatal blow to Swiss banking secrecy laws, the Swiss Parliament resolved its split over the UBS account information disclosure issue when the lower house voted on June 15th to effectively overturn the Swiss court’s ruling that was temporarily blocking the agreement between UBS and the U.S. government. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. government agreed to not prosecute UBS for its actions in assisting US tax evaders if UBS disclosed the names and account details of its 4,450 largest accounts held by US citizens suspected of tax evasion.
The Swiss tax authority reports that the account information of 500 individuals who have submitted privacy waivers to UBS or the Swiss government have already been handed over to the U.S. authorities. The Swiss government has already compiled the information of 2,900 more accounts for transfer once the UBS - U.S. agreement is approved, and it is processing the remaining 1,550 covered by the agreement for transfer as well.
The agreement faces one final hurdle, however, as the two houses of the Swiss Parliament are still divided on whether the Swiss voters should have a voice in the issue through a referendum. If the upper house changes the position against referendum that it stated with its vote last week, the Swiss people will have 100 days to gather enough signatures to move the referendum process forward. We’ll have to wait until June 18, the end of the Swiss parliament’s session, to see for certain, but I think that the two houses of the Swiss parliament will come to an agreement to avoid sending this to a referendum and allow UBS to meet the August deadline set under the UBS – U.S. agreement.
What does this all mean to individuals, trusts and companies with unreported offshore accounts? Serious consideration should be given to coming into compliance in filing FBARS and/or to filing a Voluntary Disclosure!