Swiss government puts off bid to settle U.S. tax dispute
ZURICH, June 21 (Reuters) - The Swiss government will consider ways to allow its banks to hand over information to U.S. authorities either next Wednesday or a week later, a spokesman said on Friday, later than previously indicated.
The government is under pressure to find a way to save its banks from criminal charges for helping wealthy Americans evade tax after parliament blocked a bill on Wednesday that would have allowed the banks to sidestep strict secrecy laws.
Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf had said the government could consider issuing an executive order on Friday to allow banks to comply with U.S. demands, but the government spokesman said her ministry was still working on the plans.
The spokesman told a regular news conference that the finance ministry now planned to present a solution at the next cabinet meeting on Wednesday or a week later.
U.S. authorities have more than a dozen banks under formal investigation, including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer , the Swiss arm of Britain's HSBC, privately held Pictet in Geneva and local government-backed Zuercher Kantonalbank and Basler Kantonalbank.