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November 9, 2009

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Britain, Australia request UBS for info

AUTHORITIES in Britain and Australia have requested information from UBS after the Swiss bank agreed in August to disclose some 4,450 client names to settle a United States tax case, the bank confirmed yesterday.

UBS said in a note to its third-quarter financial statement, published last week, that tax and regulatory authorities in a number of jurisdictions had requested information on cross-border wealth management services provided by UBS and other banks.

The British and Australian tax authorities confirmed that investigations were under way, Swiss newspaper Sonntag reported yesterday.

UBS only said in its statement that the British and Australians had requested information on offshore services from UBS and other Swiss and non-Swiss financial institutions.

"UBS is cooperating with these information requests strictly within the limits of financial privacy obligations under Swiss law. It is premature to speculate on the outcome of any such inquiries," it said.

The Sonntag newspaper said Credit Suisse declined to comment on whether it had also been contacted.

The US investigation into how UBS helped rich Americans hide money in Switzerland has hurt the bank's reputation and prompted offshore customers to withdraw assets, with the bank reporting last week that third-quarter net outflows totalled 36.6 billion Swiss francs (US$36 billion).

The Sonntag newspaper said the Swiss tax authorities would on November 17 reveal the precise criteria determining which UBS client data is handed over to the US authorities.

That is also the day that the bank is due to present its new strategy at an investor day, which Sonntag said would include a focus on growth in Asia and a return to profitability in its slimmed-down investment bank.


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