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UBS, which the U.S. authorities says helped wealthy Americans hide cash in offshore bank accounts, will shut about 19,000 offshore accounts, the paper said, quoting unnamed U.S. clients.
The Swiss bank, one of the hardest-hit in the credit crisis, decided in July last year to stop offering offshore accounts to U.S. citizens after it was targeted by the U.S. tax investigation which challenges Switzerland's famous banking secrecy laws.
U.S. prosecutors have alleged that UBS helped clients hide $18 billion of untaxed American money in undeclared accounts. This amounts to around $300 million of annual unpaid taxes, the newspaper said. UBS will transfer the U.S. clients' assets to other banks or other divisions within UBS, or will mail checks directly to the account holders, creating paper trails for U.S. federal prosecutors who are checking whether UBS clients used such accounts to evade taxes.
In a separate article, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday that many U.S. clients of UBS had started to voluntarily turn themselves in to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The clients have so far avoided serious punishment, the paper said.