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US court postpones trial in UBS tax secrecy case

A US court has agreed to postpone the opening of a lawsuit that could force Swiss bank UBS to disclose the identities of thousands of US customers after the Swiss and US authorities, as well as UBS, asked for more time to reach an understanding.

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AFP - A US judge on Monday postponed the opening of a lawsuit seeking to force Swiss financial giant UBS to reveal thousands of offshore accounts held by US clients.

The judge agreed to a request from the US and Swiss governments as well as UBS to put off the start of case until August 3 to give all parties time to negotiate a resolution.

"I'm willing to grant this motion and encourage such negotiations. I would not be unwilling to grant further extensions rather than the contrary," Judge Alan Gold told the court in a hearing that lasted seven minutes.

Eugene Stearns, lawyer for UBS, told the court: "The two governments are in talks and we don't want to stand in the way of democracies."

The team for the US government also said it agreed to a 15-day stay to allow the talks to proceed.

US authorities are asking a federal court to order UBS to reveal the names of American offshore account holders, saying the Swiss bank "systematically and deliberately" violated US laws.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed earlier this year and affects as many as 52,000 US taxpayers suspected of holding UBS offshore accounts to avoid paying US taxes.

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