Geneva: Switzerland and the United States were Saturday close to a deal to end a tax evasion dispute over undeclared assets held by US taxpayers in Swiss banks, local media reported.
Quoting unnamed sources, Swiss newspaper NZZ said that Washington had "basically agreed to accept the offer from Switzerland."
Another newspaper Tages Anzeiger also confirmed that the United States had accepted the proposed deal, which would include an undetermined fine to be paid by the Swiss.
Sources had earlier suggested that the fine would reach about USD 2.3 billion.
The proposed deal also allows US tax authorities to seek help regularly from the Swiss to identify suspected tax cheats, said the NZZ.
Washington would no longer have to provide specific names of suspects as it is currently required to, but would be able instead to make "group enquiries."
A maximum of ten such group requests can be made, and banks which would be affected include Credit Suisse, Bank Julius Baer and HSBC.
The United States has been putting pressure on Switzerland to ease its bank secrecy laws which Washington claims help to shield tax cheats.
In an offensive against Switzerland's biggest bank UBS in 2008 and 2009, US tax authorities managed to pry 300 client names and a fine of USD 780 million from the bank.
Dissatisfied, Washington then filed a second suit, which finally forced UBS to hand over data on 4,450 American clients.
First Published: Saturday, September 17, 2011, 18:40