France charges Swiss bank UBS with tax fraud
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France charged UBS with tax fraud on Wednesday for allegedly helping French clients hide money in Switzerland, judicial sources said. The Swiss bank is also suspected of using dual accounts to hide the flow of capital into Switzerland.
The judicial source said the charges relate to money kept in accounts in Switzerland between 2004 and 2012.
The Swiss business of UBS is also suspected of illegally canvassing French customers and setting up dual accounts to hide the movement of capital into Switzerland.
The bank, which was already under investigation for illegally soliciting customers in France, will now have to pay a total bail of €1.1 billion ($1.5 billion), the source told AFP.
According to judicial sources, the new bail is equivalent to 42.6 percent of USB's after-tax profits last year and 2.8 percent of shareholder funds.
UBS said in a statement that the bail amount and the method used to calculate it was flawed and "highly politicised".
The Bank of France's regulatory arm, known as the ACP, was alerted to the undeclared accounts between 2002 and 2007. A probe was launched after former UBS employees blew the whistle.
"In the course of the last few years, we have done everything we can to bring this matter to a close," the UBS statement said.
UBS also said it has taken "significant and broad steps" to ensure tax compliance by its customers and that it would continue to do so.
The move by Paris comes amid a global clampdown on tax evasion by authorities around the world.
This week Credit Suisse said it lost 700 million Swiss Francs ($775 million, €576 million) in the second quarter of the year after paying a $2.6 billion US fine for tax evasion.
The OECD said Monday that member countries had identified an estimated €37 billion in hidden taxes through voluntary disclosure by more than half a million taxpayers in recent years.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)