BUSINESS
02/05/2012 11:45 EST | Updated 04/06/2012 05:12 EDT

Embattled Swiss banks to outline strategy in US tax evasion row after Wegelin demise

GENEVA - Two Swiss banks will this week outline their response to growing pressure from the U.S. to give up tax-evading American customers and the bankers who helped them.

Julius Baer Group and Zuercher Kantonalbank are among at least 11 Swiss banks targeted by U.S. authorities following a successful case against UBS AG that forced Switzerland's biggest bank to hand over 4,450 clients' files to Washington in 2010. Since then, an amnesty program and the arrest of several Swiss bankers have given U.S. authorities ample ammunition to pursue other banks in the Alpine nation.

Zurich-listed Julius Baer, founded in 1890, will detail its position when the bank's full-year results are released Monday, spokesman Jan Vonder Muehll told The Associated Press in an email Sunday.

Zuercher Kantonalbank, founded in 1870 and owned by the canton (state) of Zurich where many of Switzerland's biggest banks are based, is expected to follow suit when its annual results are presented Friday.

Swiss banks have been shaken into action by the unexpected closure last month of the nation's oldest bank. St. Gallen-based Wegelin & Co., whose history dates back to 1741, announced Jan. 27 that it was selling most of its business after U.S. authorities indicted the bank with conspiring to help American clients hide more than $1.2 billion from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

The move by U.S. prosecutors undermined Swiss President and Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf's assertion last month that Washington and Bern were making progress toward resolving all U.S. tax evasion cases against Swiss banks.

The Swiss government said last week it had agreed to provide the U.S. with documents outlining the U.S. business activities of Swiss banks. The Finance Ministry said the names of individual bankers in the documents would be encrypted until a deal with Washington is struck.