Swiss minister to discuss tax issue with U.S. attorney general

Reuters

ZURICH, May 2 (Reuters) - Switzerland's Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is meeting Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, in Washington on Friday to discuss a tax-evasion probe into Swiss banks by U.S. authorities, a ministry spokesman said.

Contacted by phone, the spokesman said Widmer-Schlumpf would push for "fair and equal treatment" of the Swiss banks involved in the probe.

Credit Suisse, the biggest Swiss bank in the probe, came under more pressure this week as one of its former employees pleaded guilty to helping U.S. clients avoid taxes.

"The United States Department of Justice's investigation into the U.S. tax matter remains outstanding and, while we are working hard to bring this to a close, the timing and outcome remain uncertain," Credit Suisse said in its quarterly report published on Friday.

The bank declined to comment further on the minister's talks.

More than a dozen Swiss banks, also including Julius Baer and the Swiss arm of Britain's HSBC, are under criminal investigation in the United States to determine if and how they helped wealthy Americans hide money from the taxman.

Scores of smaller banks have agreed to work with U.S. authorities to cap penalties they might face.

(Reporting by Oliver Hirt and Silke Koltrowitz)

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