GENEVA, June 6 The United States hopes to settle
its dispute with Switzerland over unpaid taxes on money held in
Swiss bank accounts by the U.S. presidential election in
November, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Donald S. Beyer said on
"Our hope, but not necessarily our expectation, is that all
this is resolved before the election, but it may not be," he
told a news conference in Geneva.
Eleven Swiss banks - including Credit Suisse and
Julius Baer - are under investigation by the United
States for aiding U.S. citizens suspected of dodging taxes.
Switzerland wants the investigations dropped, in exchange for
payment of fines and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S.
bank clients. It also wants a deal to shield the remainder of
its 300 or so banks from U.S. prosecution.
The talks appear to have stalled in recent months. A visit
by Swiss President and Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
to Washington in April brought no breakthrough, although she
said she hoped to resolve the dispute before the end of the
Although Beyer mentioned the presidential election in the
timeline for a deal, he denied the election was slowing things
down since U.S. negotiators were independent, career government
attorneys and there was no link to the electoral calendar.
"In the U.S. political system the Attorney General of the
United States is independent from the president (and is)
confirmed by the Senate, but jealously guards his or her freedom
to act, to investigate, to bring charges, to prosecute."
He also said that it was not a major issue for the White
House in the election year.
"I think we spend a lot more attention looking at this at
the U.S. Embassy in Berne and the Department of Finance in Berne
than the White House does. They (the Swiss) would love to have
it settled and over, but it's going to go at a pace that (Swiss
negotiator) Michael Ambuehl and President Widmer-Schlumpf and
the Department of Justice attorneys find works for both sides."
The U.S. prosecutor most responsible for piercing the veil
of Swiss bank secrecy, Kevin Downing, quit to join a law firm
effective June 4.
Asked if his departure would have any impact on the
timeline, Beyer said Downing was only one of the team and the
Internal Revenue Service's Michael Danilack was leading the U.S.