Swiss bank UBS appeals against French money-laundering verdict

Swiss bank UBS appeals against French money-laundering verdict
Swiss bank UBS appeals against French money-laundering verdict   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  
By Reuters

<div> <p>By Michael Shields</p> <p><span class="caps">ZURICH</span> -<span class="caps">UBS</span> has filed an appeal with France’s Supreme Court against last week’s decision by a Paris court that upheld the Swiss bank’s conviction for money laundering, while slashing its penalty for allegedly helping wealthy clients evade taxes.</p> <p>“This enables <span class="caps">UBS</span> AG to thoroughly assess the verdict of the Court of Appeal and to determine next steps in the best interest of its stakeholders,” Switzerland’s biggest bank said in a statement on Monday.</p> <p>Such an appeal in France usually takes months. The Supreme Court can only rule on a legal technicality, rather than the merit of the case. If it finds in favour of <span class="caps">UBS</span>, the case returns to the appeal court.</p> <p>The Paris appeals court reduced <span class="caps">UBS</span>’s penalty to 1.8 billion euros ($2.03 billion), less than half of an overall fine of 4.5 billion euros imposed against the bank after a first trial in 2019.</p> <p><span class="caps">UBS</span>, however, had hoped to see the charges thrown out by the appeals court, particularly the money-laundering allegation, because of the potential reputational damage to the world’s biggest wealth manager.</p> <p>Fines in Europe for tax-related and other offences have historically been lower than in the United States, with the <span class="caps">UBS</span> case marking an exception that has been closely watched by other banks.</p> <p>Analysts are also watching the case to see how much excess capital <span class="caps">UBS</span> may distribute to shareholders.</p> <p>Confirming the verdict of the 2019 trial, the appeals court found <span class="caps">UBS</span> guilty of soliciting clients illegally at sporting events and parties in France, and of laundering the proceeds of tax evasion.</p> <p><span class="caps">UBS</span> has already set aside 450 million euros in provisions in connection with the case.</p> <p>Lawyers for the bank had argued in the appeals trial that despite whistleblowers coming forward, investigators had never found clear evidence of systematic attempts by <span class="caps">UBS</span> sales consultants to canvass French customers, including at client events like cocktail parties and hunts.</p> <p>The bank had also argued that the original fine was disproportionate.</p> <p>($1 = 0.8857 euros) </p> </div>