Swiss bill to counter tax charges fails

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The Independent Online

The Swiss lower house of parliament has dealt a final death blow to a draft law aimed at protecting the country's banks from criminal charges in the United States for helping wealthy Americans to evade tax.

The Swiss government has warned that the bill's failure could prompt impatient US prosecutors to indict banks, although it could still invoke an executive order to allow them to hand over data to try to avert charges.

The bill was aimed at allowing banks to sidestep Swiss secrecy laws by disclosing their US dealings in a bid to help them to strike deals that are nevertheless expected to include fines that could cost the industry as much as $10bn (£6.4bn).