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Swiss government mulling solution to U.S. tax dispute

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government is considering a possible solution to a long-running dispute with the U.S. authorities over Swiss banks accused of helping wealthy Americans evade taxation.

Government spokesman Andre Simonazzi said in an emailed statement the cabinet had been informed about a solution to the dispute in negotiations with the United States.

"It will continue its discussion when there is a definite result to the negotiations," he said.

The Swiss government has been in protracted talks to try to reach a deal to end U.S. investigations into Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse <CSGN.VX> and Julius Baer <BAER.VX>, in return for expected heavy fines and a transfer of client names.

A source familiar with the negotiations has told Reuters that the outlines of a deal have been reached but talks with Washington are ongoing.

The deal would divide the over 300 Swiss banks according to what extent they helped U.S. clients hide money from the tax man, with those already under investigation to settle with individual deferred prosecution agreements, the source said.

The country's biggest bank UBS <UBSN.VX> was forced in 2009 to pay a fine of $780 million (508 million pounds) and hand over the names of more than 4,000 clients, delivering the U.S. authorities information that allowed them to then pursue other Swiss banks.

Last month, Switzerland's oldest private bank, Wegelin & Co, was fined nearly $58 million after pleading guilty to helping wealthy Americans evade taxes.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, Katharina Bart and Oliver Hirt. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130417/swiss-government-mulling-solution-us-tax-dispute