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Swiss bank UBS appeals against French money laundering conviction

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Swiss bank UBS in Zurich, Switzerland
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland on February 17, 2021. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann / File Photo / File Photo / File Photo

December 20, 2021

By Michael Shields

ZURICH (Reuters) -UBS has filed an appeal with the French Supreme Court against a decision last week by a Paris court upheld the Swiss bank’s conviction on money laundering charges, while reducing the bank’s penalty. for allegedly helping wealthy clients evade taxes.

“This allows UBS AG to thoroughly evaluate the Court of Appeal’s decision and determine next steps in the best interest of the parties involved,” Switzerland’s largest bank said in a statement today. Monday.

Such appeals in France usually take months. The Supreme Court can only rule on legal technicality, not on the merits of the case. If it’s in UBS’s favor, the case will go back to the appeals court.

The Paris Court of Appeal reduced UBS’s penalty to 1.8 billion euros ($2.03 billion), less than half of the overall 4.5 billion euro fine imposed on the bank after the first trial. in 2019.

UBS, however, had hoped to see the charges brought by the appeals court, particularly money laundering, as potentially damaging to the reputation of the world’s largest asset manager.

Fines in Europe for tax and other offenses have historically been lower than in the United States, with the UBS case marking an exception that has been closely watched by other banks. .

Analysts are also monitoring the case to see how much excess capital UBS can distribute to shareholders.

Confirming the verdict of the 2019 trial, the appellate court found UBS guilty of soliciting illegal customers at events and sports parties in France, and laundering money to evade taxes.

UBS has made a provision of 450 million euros in connection with the incident.

The bank’s lawyers argued in the appeals court that despite the accusations that were brought forward, investigators had never found clear evidence of the systematic efforts of private investment professionals. UBS sales consultants to win over French customers, including at customer events such as cocktail parties and safaris.

The bank also argued that the initial fine was disproportionate.

(1 dollar = 0.8857 euros)

(Reporting by Michael Shields in Switzerland; Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Paris, Editing by Mark Potter and Alexander Smith)

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Bobby Allyn

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