* Says settlement would cost over $1 bln
* Declines to comment on what might be covered
BERNE, July 2 (Reuters) - Switzerland’s President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said on Monday that she expected to reach agreement with U.S. officials over wealthy Americans’ hidden offshore bank accounts by November.
The comments echo remarks from U.S. ambassador to Switzerland Donald S. Beyer who said in June that a settlement was possible before the U.S. election.
“We ... expect that we can have a solution this year, before the elections,” Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, who is also the country’s finance minister, told a press conference.
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 the payment of fines and the transfer of the names of thousands of U.S. clients.
Widmer-Schlumpf said that such a deal would cost the country at least $1 billion.
“If it’s $5 billion or $10 billion I can’t really say. I would say only that it’s more than $1 billion for sure,” she told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
She declined to comment on what might be covered by such a settlement.
Sources briefed on the matter said late last year that Switzerland had proposed a multibillion-dollar settlement, adding that it could reach $10 billion or more.
Banks including HSBC, Credit Suisse and Julius Baer have given about 10,000 employee names to U.S. authorities in an effort to avoid the fate of Wegelin, which broke up under threat of indictment, bank employees and lawyers said in June.