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Swiss lawmakers approve deal to hand tax-cheat data to US

Switzerland's parliament has approved a deal with the United States to have Swiss bank UBS hand over data on suspected US tax evaders. The information implicates as many as 4,450 people with accounts with UBS.

The UBS logo with storm clouds overhead

The storm clouds may be clearing over Swiss bank UBS

Swiss lawmakers have backed a deal with the US that would see banking giant UBS forced to hand over data on 4,450 US clients suspected of tax evasion.

The Swiss and US governments, along with Switzerland's largest bank UBS, had agreed the deal in 2009, but it needed parliamentary approval after the Swiss Supreme Court called its legality into question.

Switzerland has long faced criticism from the international community over its secretive banking laws that protect the identities of account holders with banks such as UBS.

Last week it seemed the deal may have been dead in the water after parties from across the political spectrum in Switzerland voted against the government-brokered agreement.

Approval of the deal - by 81 votes to 61, with 53 lawmakers abstaining - was reached after the lower house was asked to hold a second vote.

Technical details remain to be ironed out and the proposal may still be put to the Swiss public in a referendum before it finally becomes law.

Approval of the deal could go a long way to settling lawsuits by US authorities and could save Switzerland and several of its banks considerable sums of money in legal fees.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP/AP)

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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