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Economy

UBS to face French court over billions of euros of tax fraud, report

media UBS is accused of abetting tax fraud in France Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Swiss bank UBS, along with several of its former executives, is to face legal action for encouraging tax fraud that could cost it five billion euros, if judges accept a public prosecutor's recommendation, reports said Friday. The company sent agents to France to incite wealthy individuals to hide their fortunes in Swiss ban accounts.

France's financial crimes prosecutors' office has recommended that UBS AG, UBS France and a half dozen former company executives should face trial for "aggravated money-laundering for tax fraud" and/or "illicit banking procedures", Le Monde newspaper reported Friday.

If Judge Guillaume Daïeff accepts the recommendation, they could face fines of five billion euros, since the penalty can be up to half of the value of the money laundered and investigators estimate that to be at least 10 billion euros between 2004 and 2012, the paper says.

Solicited tax-dodgers' custom

UBS has denied the allegations but in June one of the accused, the former number two at UBS France Patrick de Fayet, reportedly wrote to prosecutors accepting he was guilty of illicit banking procedures.

The prosecutors' 126-page report says that UBS solicited the custom of tens of thousands of French taxpayers, most of them very wealthy, to help them dodge French tax.

Agents met them either in the bank's Paris offices or in hotels nearby or, sometimes, at the individuals' homes, says Le Monde, which gave details of the story in February this year.

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