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UBS fined £3.2bn for 'aiding tax evasion'

Sky News logo Sky News 20/02/2019
UBS is the largest of Switzerland's banks © Getty UBS is the largest of Switzerland's banks

A Paris court has ruled Swiss bank UBS should pay €3.7bn (£3.2bn) in fines for helping French clients evade taxes on €10bn (£8.7bn) in assets.

UBS, Switzerland's largest banking institution, had denied a string of charges, including aggravated money laundering, that were understood to have stemmed from claims made by whistleblowers - insiders at the bank.

Prosecutors alleged UBS actively sought out wealthy individuals, including sports stars, within France and urged them to place their money in Switzerland over eight years from 2004.

Following the verdict, the bank was told it would also have to pay €800m (£696m) in damages to the French state.

© Getty

Five employees, who were also on trial, were handed suspended jail terms.

UBS said it would appeal against the verdict and total penalty of €4.5bn (£3.9bn) - a sum that almost consumes the total net profit amassed by the bank in 2018 at $4.9bn (£3.8bn/$5.1bn).

UBS had already made provisions of almost $2.5bn (£1.9bn) to cover the cost of potential litigation against the bank.

The ruling follows a similar case against UBS in the United States 10 years ago when the bank agreed a $780m (£598m) settlement.

© Getty

It was later fined €300m (£261m) by authorities in Germany.

UBS shares fell more than 2% when the bill facing the bank in Paris was announced.

It is understood it had previously rejected an out-of-court settlement of €1.1bn (£956m) as too expensive.

In a statement, UBS said it was the victim of a conviction based on "unfounded allegations of former employees."

The bank said it only offered "legitimate and standard services under Swiss law that are also common in other jurisdictions."

Related: Companies who’ve given away their trade secrets (Lovemoney)

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