UBS Fined €3.7 Billion by French Authorities for Tax Evasion

The Swiss investment bank rejected a prior settlement offer from French authorities

Swiss investment banking giant UBS has been fined a record 3.7 billion euros ($4.8 billion) by French authorities for tax fraud.

A court in Paris found that the firm had helped French citizens evade tax, totaling billions of euros, from 2004 to 2012.

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Alongside that hefty fine, the investment bank will also have to pay 800 million euros ($910 million) in “damages” to the French state.

Wednesday’s decision follows on from two other cases against the bank, one in the US and another in Germany, that have taken place in the past ten years.

Back in 2009, UBS agreed to pay $780 million to US authorities over tax evasion and, in 2014, the investment bank paid a 300 million euro ($341 million) fine to German regulators for the same reason.

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UBS: no evidence for conviction

In this instance, the Swiss company says that it has done nothing wrong and that it will be appealing the French court’s decision.

“The bank has consistently contested any criminal wrongdoing in this case throughout the investigation and during the trial,” said a UBS spokesperson. “The conviction is not supported by any concrete evidence, but instead is based on the unfounded allegations of former employees who were not even heard at the trial.”

In the same statement, the firm also said that no one from UBS had ever solicited clients, on French soil, to open an account with the investment bank’s Swiss division.

That claim runs contrary to accusations made by prosecutors who say the company sent employees to sporting events and concerts in France to attract clients. Prosecutors also alleged that the Swiss firm had laundered the funds on an “industrial” scale.

If UBS does have to pay the fine in full, it will be a massive blow to the company. Last year, the firm made a total of $4.9 billion in profit and, though it set aside $2.46 billion to cover any potential losses from litigation, the fine will still weight heavily on the company accounts.

 

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