| GEO World|
| Swiss Bank to turn over account data to US authorities|
| Updated at: 0758 PST, Thursday, August 20, 2009|
WASHINGTON: A major Swiss bank has agreed to turn over information on thousands of accounts targeted by the United States for possible tax evasion.
From Nazis to modern-day criminals, Switzerland's legendary bank secrecy has long been exploited by those with assets to hide. For decades, Swiss banks have had a no-questions-asked policy when it comes to deposits, and a no-questions-answered policy when it comes to investigations of their customers.
Those policies are changing. The latest evidence: Swiss banking giant UBS has agreed to hand over details on more than 4,000 accounts to the U.S. government.
America's top tax official, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman hailed the accord on Bloomberg television.
"It is a huge victory for the U.S. government. This is an unprecedented agreement," he said.
The accounts are believed to hold as much as $18 billion in undeclared assets that until now were hidden from U.S. taxes.
Shulman praised reforms in Swiss banking.