UBS faces French trial in long-running tax case

Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:36am EDT
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By Joshua Franklin and Maya Nikolaeva

ZURICH/PARIS (Reuters) - UBS (UBSG.S: Quote) and its French subsidiary face trial in France after a long-running investigation into allegations that the Swiss bank helped wealthy clients avoid taxes.

France and other European Union countries have launched a campaign to encourage taxpayers to come clean on previously undeclared assets held abroad, and clamped down on aggressive tax optimization techniques by multinational companies.

"We will now have the possibility to respond in detail in a court of law," UBS said in an emailed statement on Monday. "UBS has made clear that the bank disagrees with the allegations, assumptions and legal interpretations being made."

French magistrates have ordered that UBS stand trial on charges of aggravated tax fraud and money laundering as well as illegally offering related services, a judicial source said.

"This is an emblematic (decision) and a little comforting," Eric Bocquet, lead author of an inquiry report on tax evasion by the French Senate's finance committee, told Reuters.

"But this is important to see how far it will go...You can't negotiate with justice".

Magistrates were expected this week to order a trial after negotiations failed to produce a settlement in the long-running probe into allegations UBS helped clients avoid taxes, Reuters reported on Sunday.

French newspaper JDD said UBS had rejected a 1.1 billion euro ($1.18 billion) settlement proposed by prosecutors.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: The offices of Swiss bank UBS are seen in the financial district of the City of London, Britain October 31, 2012.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo