Putting an end to months of uncertainty, the Swiss Parliament approved the UBS deal with the US, paving the way for handing over account details of 4,450 alleged tax evaders to the US authorities.
"Parliamentary approval means that nothing now stands in the way of UBS client details being disclosed in cases where the decision handed down has taken legal effect," the Swiss federal office of justice said in a statement in Bern.
The UBS-US deal, which was announced late last year, has been hanging fire, especially after a Swiss court ruled against it in January. In August 2009, the US authorities
slapped charges against UBS for helping many Americans to evade tax by creating secret bank accounts overseas.
As part of the settlement, UBS had agreed to disclose information of about 4,450 bank accounts held by American citizens by August this year.
Famed for their banking secrecy practices, the deal that UBS got into with the US was unprecedented and triggered a flurry of requests from different countries, including India for information on secret bank accounts.
The deal is very crucial for UBS, which risked the possibility of a civil investigation from American authorities in case of failure in disclosing bank account details.
Welcoming the Parliamentary approval, UBS in a separate statement said the vote is an important step to support the resolution at the governmental level.
The Swiss federal justice office noted that the Swiss federal tax administration has processed around 3,000 cases (of the total 4,450 bank accounts) to date. "Almost all of the remaining cases - roughly 1,450 - are already being processed, so efforts to comply with the treaty assistance request are on course," the statement noted.
UBS said it is confident of meeting the deadline related to separate settlement agreements reached with the US justice department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.