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Swiss upper house backs bill to end US tax spat

Wednesday - 6/12/2013, 1:50pm  ET

GENEVA (AP) -- Swiss lawmakers have pushed forward a government-backed bill aimed at ending a long-running dispute with the United States over tax evasion.

Switzerland's upper house voted 24-15, with two abstentions, in favor of a bill presented by Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf as a way to allow Swiss banks to cooperate with U.S. authorities without breaking Switzerland's strict client secrecy laws.

The bill's passage Wednesday in the Swiss capital Bern comes five months after a U.S. tax evasion case led to the closure of Switzerland's oldest private bank, Wegelin & Co., after it admitted helping American tax cheats.

The Swiss government is seeking a compromise to end similar threats against more than a dozen banks, a sector vital to the economy.

The debate next week goes to parliament's lower house for approval.

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