Swiss government clears some banks to co-operate with US in tax evasion deal

GENEVA – The Swiss government says it has cleared the first batch of banks to co-operate with U.S. authorities under a deal to stem tax evasion.

The Cabinet gave its approval at a meeting Friday but said in a statement that it won’t give information on the number of banks involved or name them.

The agreement allows Swiss banks to settle any potential U.S. charges if they disclose information related to American assets. Some would also have to pay a penalty. Banks wanting to participate have to seek individual permission to do so from the government.

Switzerland has been trying to shed its image as a haven for tax evasion and money laundering carried out through misuse of its famous banking secrecy.