The Swiss government said Wednesday that it was prepared to seize U.B.S. client data rather than allow the bank to hand it over to the United States to settle a tax case.

U.B.S. has refused a demand from U.S. authorities that it turn over the names of 52,000 American clients, arguing that to do so would be illegal under Swiss banking secrecy laws and would open it to prosecution at home. The U.S. Justice Department in February sued U.B.S., saying it suspected the bank of helping wealthy Americans hide billions of dollars in secret offshore accounts.

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