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Probed Swiss bank UBS ‘bans staff from travelling to France’

AFP | UBS's French headquarters in Paris.

UBS has asked several of its private banking staff to stay away from France, where the Swiss-based international bank is under investigation for alleged fraud, Swiss broadcaster RTS has reported.

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According to “several sources” at UBS contacted by the Swiss broadcaster, a number of asset managers working with French clients were summoned for a meeting last month and urged to stop travelling to France.

RTS said the ban concerned up to “several dozen employees” and included family visits and shopping trips across the border between the two countries. Staff were reportedly threatened with dismissal if they did not comply.

The French authorities opened an investigation last June into alleged fraud committed by UBS. The bank is accused of illegally offering secret Swiss bank accounts to French clients so that they could evade tax.

A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment on the latest reports, telling Reuters: “There is an ongoing investigation; we are cooperating with the French authorities.”

The French probe is just the latest in a string of investigations targeting the Swiss bank.

In 2009, UBS agreed to pay $780 million in fines and give the names of thousands of clients to US authorities in order to avoid criminal prosecution over undisclosed bank accounts in Switzerland.

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