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Swiss populist party wants gold recalled from U.S.
By Emma Thomasson
Saturday, February 21, 2009
ZURICH -- The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) called Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country's biggest bank, UBS, that threatens prized banking secrecy.
The populist SVP, the country's biggest party, said Switzerland should not take in any detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the Swiss government said last month it could consider to help shut the camp down.
Switzerland should also reconsider its policy of representing the United States in countries where it has no diplomatic presence, the parliamentary SVP said in a statement.
The SVP said gold stored by the Swiss National Bank in the United States should be repatriated and Switzerland should ban the sale of U.S. funds in the country to protect Swiss investors after the failure of U.S. regulators.
The SVP has one minister in the seven-member Swiss government which is made up of the biggest four parties, but its populist policies have shaken up usually consensual Swiss politics.
The comments came after UBS agreed on Wednesday to pay a fine of $780 million and to disclose about 250 names of U.S. clients it said had committed tax fraud to settle U.S. criminal charges that it had helped rich Americans dodge taxes.
U.S. tax authorities said on Thursday they were still pursuing a civil case against UBS seeking access to thousands more names of U.S. citizens it says are hiding about $14.8 billion in assets in secret Swiss bank accounts.
The SVP also said it would call for an urgent debate in parliament on ways to protect Swiss banking secrecy from "further foreign blackmail."
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