March 19, 2011 – ZURICH (Reuters) - Julius Baer <BAER.VX> Chairman Raymond Baer called for Switzerland to resolve a banking-related tax row with the United States, in comments reported by Le Temps.
"It is surprising to see the U.S. escalation against the Swiss financial center. Such hostility is not diplomatically tolerable with a friendly country," Baer was quoted as saying in an interview published on Saturday.
"A solution must be found, because we cannot change the past. Swiss banks have understood they must change," Baer said.
Michael Ambuehl, the top Swiss negotiator for international financial affairs, is due to travel to Washington to negotiate a sort of armistice for all banks, the newspaper reported.
"I hope he does go, and not just him. The departments of interior, finance and foreign affairs should be concerned about the way the Americans are treating us. Without a solution, the attacks against banks, lawyers ... will never stop," Baer said.
U.S. officials have said they are investigating other banks after UBS <UBSN.VX> in 2009 paid $780 million to settle tax evasion charges.
Earlier this month, a client of Credit Suisse <CSGN.VX> pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to evading taxes, confirming that the bank had become tangled in the U.S. government's latest wave of tax evasion probes.
Baer also said Julius Baer had the capacity to proceed with further share buybacks.
"We listen to the market. But the prices are not as attractive today," he added.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; writing by Katie Reid, editing by Jane Baird)