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UNITED STATES

Lawmakers probe Swiss banker data deal with US

A Swiss parliamentary commission said on Monday it would investigate a government decision earlier this year to allow banks to hand over data on their employees to Washington as part of a tax evasion probe.

The management commission of the lower house of parliament said in a statement it had "opened an investigation into the decisions taken by the government on January 18th and April 4th 2012 concerning the transfer of bank data and data on bank employees to US authorities."

In an unprecedented move, the Swiss government gave 11 Swiss banks the go-ahead to accommodate Washington and hand over the names of thousands of their staff and consultants working with American clients.

In addition to providing personal information about staff to the US tax authorities, the banks have also reportedly made available personal documents, emails and details of telephone calls.

The government decision came after Swiss lawmakers approved a revised tax deal with the United States that eased banking secrecy rules, allowing US authorities to more easily obtain details of tax cheats from Swiss banks.

The government's and the banks' actions caused an uproar in Switzerland and especially among the affected bank employees, many of whom have said they no longer dare travel to the United States for fear they could face charges of assisting tax evaders.

The parliamentary commission said Monday it had ordered a probe aimed at casting light on the circumstances surrounding the government decision, and that it would consider whether there should be "consequences."

It did not say how long the probe was expected to take.

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UNITED STATES

UBS pays $50 million to settle mortgage claims

Swiss bank UBS has agreed to pay nearly $50 million to settle charges over its disclosures related to a money-losing 2007 investment vehicle linked to sub-prime loans, a US agency announced on Tuesday.

UBS pays $50 million to settle mortgage claims
UBS has been hit with another fine in the US. Photo: UBS

The banking giant failed to disclose to investors $23.6 million it received in upfront payments raised as collateral in conjunction with the investment, known as a collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, said the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"UBS kept its $23.6 million that under the terms of the deal should have gone to the CDO for the benefit of its investors," George Canellos, co-director of the SEC's division of enforcement, said in a news release.

"In doing so, UBS misrepresented the nature of the CDO's collateral and rendered false the disclosures about how that collateral was acquired."

UBS presented inaccurate or incomplete information about the payments in marketing literature to investors and in submissions to the CDO's directors, the SEC said.

When the CDO was liquidated in 2007, outside investors lost approximately $130 million in the CDO, according to an SEC administrative order.

In the settlement, UBS agreed to pay about $50 million in disgorgement, interest and penalties. The bank did not admit or deny the SEC's findings.

The settlement is made up of the $23.6 million, UBS fees of $10.8 million, interest of $9.7 million and a fine of $5.7 million, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported.

In a statement UBS said it was happy the investigation had now been concluded and did not expect further SEC investigation of its activities in this area.

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