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Swiss Finma defends role in UBS furore

Monday 29 November 2010 - by Will Henley

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority has defended its impartiality following a tax evasion crisis involving UBS bank.

Responding to a parliamentary report in May which suggested that the regulator had been leaned on by the Swiss government, Finma insisted that it acted "independently".

It also resisted calls to reinvestigate ex-UBS employees over the handling of the firm's client data.

"Decisions made by Finma are determined solely by the issue in question and the authority's legal mandate and are neither guided by pressure from third parties nor influenced by the institutions under its supervision", the regulator said in a statement.

Finma argued that its predecessor, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission, advised the government's Federal Council "clearly and in good time" that it would "ultimately" be obliged to order the disclosure of client data under the country's Banking Act.

While insisting that no new investigation was necessary, Finma however said that it would demand a declaration from individual ex-UBS employees that they had "no knowledge of any breaches of duty" under Swiss law.

UBS, which was hit by a series of writedowns on toxic assets following the financial crisis, was accused of helping wealthy American investors of evading tax using offshore accounts.

The 69-page report by the parliamentary Control Committees of the National Council and the Council of States in May suggested that the government had pressurised Finma to order UBS to hand over client data on individuals suspected of evading US tax.

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