Swiss government holds special meet over UBS

ZURICH: The Swiss government interrupted its summer vacation Monday to hold a special meeting over banking giant UBS, which is embroiled in a tax evasion lawsuit in the United States.

"I can confirm that the meeting has been held and it has just ended," said a government spokesman, who declined to give further details on the meeting amid ongoing negotiations between Switzerland and the United States.

The seven members of the Swiss Federal Council or cabinet were meant to return from vacation only on August 19.

In a bid to ferret out Americans holding offshore bank accounts to evade taxes, US authorities have filed a lawsuit against UBS for details of some 52,000 of its clients.

A US federal judge on Friday gave UBS more time to try to reach an out-of-court settlement in the diplomatically sensitive tax secrecy case, marking the third time the judge has delayed the trial.

A telephone conference is to be held Wednesday between the judge and the parties to find a solution.

Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz told Swiss television SF1 on Sunday that the delay was not a problem with UBS, rather, it is due to the procedures involved.

According to regular procedure, such banking data should be passed on through the so-called administrative assistance process.

The process allows bank clients affected to file appeals, therefore, some time could be required before the data is actually transmitted.

However, US tax authorities want guarantees that they will receive the names sought rapidly, Swiss Sunday press reported.