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Swiss Banks Near Deal on US Tax Information

A prominent U.S. financial newspaper says a group of Swiss banks is "lining up" to deliver key information to U.S. authorities investigating tax evasion by Americans, a measure that could help to bring closure to a long legal battle.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday the Swiss Cabinet has unveiled a program that would allow about a dozen Swiss banks to hand over lists that include information on American clients' bank accounts that were transferred to other institutions as U.S. authorities began cracking down on overseas tax evaders. However, the report says the names of individual clients holding Swiss accounts would remain secret.

The lists are a groundbreaking step for Switzerland, which has a global reputation for banking privacy.

The Journal says the deal would also allow banks to provide information about bank employees who have worked with American clients in the past.

The newspaper says some of Switzerland's biggest banks, including Credit Suisse and Julius Baer, are eligible to apply, or have already applied for Swiss government approval to participate in the program.

The Wall Street Journal says the agreement with Swiss banks would help the financial institutions avoid criminal prosecution in exchange for admitting to helping Americans evade taxes.

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