ZURICH, June 9 U.S. officials seem to want an
end to a dispute over wealthy Americans with hidden Swiss
offshore bank accounts before the U.S. presidential election in
November, the Swiss finance minister said in a newspaper
interview on Saturday.
"My impression at the moment is that the U.S. wants a
solution by the elections. Both sides endeavour to find a
solution in the foreseeable future," Switzerland's finance
minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told Basler Zeitung.
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 with
the help of offshore bank accounts.
Switzerland wants the investigations dropped, in exchange for
payment of fines and the transfer of names of thousands of U.S.
bank clients. At the same time, Switzerland is seeking a deal to
shield the remainder of its 300 or so banks from U.S.
The talks appear to have stalled in recent months. A visit by
Widmer-Schlumpf to Washington in April brought no breakthrough.
The U.S. prosecutor most closely linked with piercing the
veil of Swiss bank secrecy, Kevin Downing, quit to join a law
firm earlier this month, a move which experts say won't hinder
U.S. efforts to pursue Swiss banks.