France fines UBS bank record S$5.6 billion in tax fraud case

A Paris court on Wednesday fined Swiss banking giant UBS 3.7 billion euros (S$5.67 billion) for encouraging customers to commit tax fraud, a record in France where public opinion has grown vocal for crackdowns on tax dodging. Lawyers for the bank, which was convicted of illegally soliciting rich clients abroad and helping them to hide billions from French tax authorities, said they would appeal the landmark ruling.

UBS, the world’s largest private bank, had tried to negotiate a settlement to avoid the potentially embarrassing court showdown, but failed to agree on a fine with prosecutors.

UBS has been embroiled in a series of similar cases, most notably in the United States, where authorities said the bank used Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws to help rich clients avoid taxes.In 2009 it paid $780 million to settle charges it helped thousands of American citizens hide money from the Internal Revenue Service.

The bank agreed to turn over information on hundreds of clients, severely denting Switzerland’s long tradition of shielding banking clients and their operations.

Date: 21st February 2019

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