French court fines UBS $5.1 billion in Tax Fraud case

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The Swiss bank UBS and its subsidiary in France have been condemned to pay a record fine of 3,700 million euros and 15 million respectively for having helped wealthy clients of the entity in the French country to evade tax payments and collaborate in the laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud, as well as the payment of another 800 million euros in civil damages. The lawyers of the Swiss giant have already announced that they will appeal the ruling.

“UBS totally disagrees with the verdict,” said the entity, stating that the sentence imposed “is not supported by any concrete evidence, but is based on unfounded allegations of former employees”, so it will appeal the verdict and study if it were necessary to adopt additional measures, adding that, under French law, an appeal suspends the judgment of the court of first instance and involves the transfer of the case to the Court of Appeals, which retests the case in its entirety.

The Swiss bank was prosecuted for proposing between 2004 and 2012 to potential customers with high purchasing power the opening in Switzerland of accounts not declared in France, allowing them to evade their tax obligations in the French countryside, which, according to the French press, served to hide to the treasury around 10,000 million euros in undeclared assets.

These infringements occurred when he was in the direction of Andrea Orcel, who left the entity in September 2018, after the announcement of his new position at Banco Santander. The Spanish entity canceled its signing in January because it had to pay a bonus of 50 million euros and considered it excessive.

UBS argues that there is no evidence that French customers opened an account of the entity in Switzerland, so a French court cannot convict the entity for events that were committed in Switzerland. The bank alleges that this sanction undermines the Swiss legal sovereignty.

The credit rating agency S & P Global has stressed that the fine “exceeds” the amount they had assumed in their projections. However, the firm has ensured that UBS has “sufficient flexibility” to maintain a “strong capital position” after the payment of the amount since, as of December 31, 2018, it had a provision of 2,200 million euros provisioned for litigation.

However, S & P Global has affirmed that it will continue to “value” the potential implications for UBS’s rating of this fine, since the bank will appeal the verdict, so it still has to be final.

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