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Swiss Financial Regulator Relinquishes Position

Originally written by Katharina Bart for the Wall Street Journal

ZURICH - Switzerland's Chairman of Financial Regulation, Eugen Haltiner, announced that he will step down from his position at the end of the year. The Swiss government issued a statement thanking the Chairman for his services and stating that it will be nominating a replacement in November. 

Mr. Haltiner's tenure was marked by controversy and speculation. He was criticized for his close relationship with UBS and his relaxed position on the rising mortgage losses facing the Swiss government.

Most recently, Mr. Haltiner made headlines in Switzerland for his role in the issuance of an emergency order that UBS turn over to the Internal Revenue Service the names of 250 wealthy Americans holding offshore accounts at the bank. The emergency order was issued and the disclosure of the account holder names was made as part of the strategy to head off an indictment of UBS by the United States Department of Justice, which might have had a devastating effect on the Swiss economy.

Despite Mr. Haltiner's efforts, the United States government sued UBS in civil proceedings seeking information on over 50,000 U.S. citizen account holders. Last August, settlement in this matter was reached and UBS agreed to turn over information relating to 4,450 accounts. The Swiss parliament approved the settlement in June and it is expected that this new disclosure will be made by UBS sometime in August or September 2010.

Expect the IRS to continue to ramp up its efforts in the area of offshore compliance and enforcement. Any U.S. taxpayer with offshore accounts that have not yet been disclosed should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

At Brown, PC offshore account compliance and international tax disputes are a large part of our practice. Please contact us for a confidential consultation about offshore account compliance.

For more information on offshore tax matters and international tax disputes, please see our "Hot Topics" area on the homepage of /.

To read an additional article with more information, please see http://online.wsj.com/article.

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