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Man accused of selling Swiss bank data agrees plea bargain

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

ZURICH (Reuters) - A man charged with selling client data from a Swiss bank to German tax authorities agreed to plead guilty later this month in a deal with prosecutors, a Swiss court said on Tuesday.

Local newswire SDA said the deal, to be heard in court on August 22, provided for a three-year prison sentence.

A spokeswoman for the court declined to give details of the length of the sentence agreed for the man, who the court said had been paid 1.1 million euros for the data on wealthy clients of the bank.

The details of the case described by the Swiss federal criminal court were identical to that of a German IT expert arrested last July and charged with breaching banking laws, industrial espionage and money laundering in relation to the leaking of data from Swiss private bank Julius Baer <BAER.VX>.

The spokeswoman declined to confirm further details of the case. The court's statement said the case was now the subject of an abbreviated hearing, indicating a plea bargain had been agreed.

Prosecutors have said the German IT expert, who has already confessed to the crimes, collected data on wealthy German and Dutch clients from various Julius Baer systems between October and December 2011.

The bank declined to comment on Tuesday.

Strict banking secrecy laws, which helped Switzerland build a $2 trillion offshore industry, are under fierce attack as cash-strapped governments get tough on tax evasion, with its banks under investigation in Germany, France and the United States.

Julius Baer agreed in 2011 to pay German tax authorities 50 million euros ($66.47 million) to close a tax investigation, but is still under investigation in the United States for helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through secret Swiss accounts.

Germany and Switzerland struck a deal last year aimed at allowing Swiss banks to levy tax on Germans clients without revealing their identities, but it was overturned by the center-left opposition in the upper house of parliament.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian and Katharina Bart; editing by Patrick Graham)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130813/man-accused-selling-swiss-bank-data-agrees-plea-bargain