The Agefi comes back on the letter 73 Swiss banks sent to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) regarding the model Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA).  The banks feels that they have been cheated on. The understanding of the banks was that their participation in the US Program would allow them to buy immunity, at a high price.

Under the model NPA Category 2 participants must provide information on the activities of their subsidiaries or any parent companies, without enjoying immunity. It would require to renew at the international level the exercise already made in Switzerland to identify US customers, thus causing a lot of work simply unmanageable for the concerned institutions.

The Swiss banks could decide to withdraw from the US Program, but that would only work if they have provided only sparse information to the DoJ so far. The DoJ could always use the acquired information to prosecute the banks, like what is happening for Category 1 banks.

The Agefi relays rumors saying that they are different kind of Category 2 banks. One could be referred to as Category 2.5 and include banks that staid out of the US Program so far but are looking for an arrangement for the settlement of the tax dispute. The second one could be referred to as Category 2light and include banks that did not actively prospect for US clients but hold a number of undeclared US accounts. They joined the Category 2 under the pressure of the FINMA.

The tougher stance on Swiss banks seems to also have a political root. Tamara Ashford, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division, needs the backup of the US Senate and needs to show severity towards the banks. Coupled with the global clampdown on tax evasion, this puts pressure on Swiss banks.