November 27, 2013 / 11:57 AM / 5 years ago

UBS says French investigators visit headquarters

The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at a branch office in Zurich October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

PARIS (Reuters) - French judicial authorities probing Swiss bank UBS over allegations it illegally sold products designed to avoid French taxes visited the bank’s Paris headquarters on Wednesday, a UBS spokesman said.

It is the second time in just over a year that investigators have probed UBS’ French offices in person. The Swiss bank was placed under formal investigation for alleged complicity in suspected illegal sales practices in June, as governments and regulators worldwide crack down on tax evasion.

“As part of the inquiry opened in February 2012, investigating magistrate Guillaume Daieff has conducted an on-site visit of the Paris headquarters of UBS France,” the spokesman said in an email, adding it was the second visit of this kind since September 2012.

“It is normal procedure for this type of probe. UBS France, which seeks total transparency, gave its backing. UBS France will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities.”

At issue is whether UBS offered potential French clients investments that prosecutors allege were designed to evade taxes.

The authorities are pursuing allegations from a former executive that Swiss bank accounts were being illegally sold on French soil and recorded in a separate account-keeping system used to help calculate bankers’ bonuses.

In an interview with Reuters in June, UBS France Chief Executive Jean-Frederic de Leusse said an internal review at UBS France had yet to find evidence of law-breaking.

Prosecutors have separately questioned De Leusse and also placed the French unit under investigation.

Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Writing by Lionel Laurent; Editing by James Regan and Elaine Hardcastle

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