French court hits Swiss bank UBS with $5.1 billion penalty

Legal Compliance

A French court ordered Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, to pay 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in fines and damages for helping wealthy French clients evade tax authorities, sending a stern warning to tax dodgers and the banks that aid them.

The Paris court convicted Zurich-based UBS AG on Wednesday of aggravated money laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud and illegal bank soliciting, issuing what French media called a record fine.

UBS, one of the world’s largest wealth management banks, slammed the ruling and vowed to appeal. It denied criminal wrongdoing, saying in a statement that the conviction was based on “unfounded allegations of former employees.”

UBS suggested the ruling was based on prejudices in France — which is known for its high taxes — against Swiss tax practices. It insisted that the bank was only offering “legitimate and standard services under Swiss law that are also common in other jurisdictions.”

The Paris court disagreed, and ordered exceptional criminal fines of 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion) for UBS’ Swiss head office and 15 million euros ($17 million) for its French subsidiary, and civil damages of 800 million euros ($907 million). Five former UBS executives were also given fines and suspended prison sentences.

Investigators say the Swiss bank sent employees to solicit business from wealthy executives or athletes during sports or music events in France, urging them to place their money in Switzerland.

The assets illegally concealed by French clients in Switzerland in 2004-2012 allegedly amounted to some 10 billion euros ($10.75 billion).

French government attorney Xavier Normand Bodard called Wednesday’s verdict a “very important” ruling and suggested it could set a legal precedent for cases involving the laundering of proceeds of tax fraud.

Related listings

  • WVa AG's help sought in Supreme Court impeachment appeal

    WVa AG's help sought in Supreme Court impeachment appeal

    Legal Compliance 01/03/2019

    Three months after a ruling halted the impeachment process involving most of West Virginia's Supreme Court justices, the state Senate president is seeking a second opinion.Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Friday at the annual Legislative Lookah...

  • European court orders Turkey to free ex-Kurdish party leader

    European court orders Turkey to free ex-Kurdish party leader

    Legal Compliance 11/20/2018

    The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday called on Turkey to release the former head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition from detention. Turkey's president responded by claiming his country was not bound by the court's rulings.In its ruling on Tu...

  • New black officers, court officials rethinking US policing

    New black officers, court officials rethinking US policing

    Legal Compliance 11/17/2018

    Veteran Alabama law enforcement officer Mark Pettway grew up in a black neighborhood called “Dynamite Hill” because the Ku Klux Klan bombed so many houses there in the 1950s and ’60s.Now, after becoming the first black person electe...

Any contracts or any transactions can go awry at any time

We know your business means a lot to you and want to understand all the aspects of your business so that we can help you in the best ways possible. We don’t discriminate depending on the size of your company. Our mission statement is to represent all business owners and entrepreneurs by navigating them through the rough waters of business litigation and guiding them to success.

We are attorneys who want to make sure we understand your business objectives and goals before we start providing you with legal counsel individualized to your business. We know what it means to be dedicated to your business. After all, we are a business as well. And just like you, we want to provide the best service we can to our clients.

Any contracts or any transactions can go awry at any time. Sometimes, making important business decisions without legal help from business attorneys could cost you your business.We don’t want you or your business to be misconstrued by anyone. Our attorneys make sure that we communicate with you often to make sure we are giving you the legal guidance you need at all times. We make sure we are responsive in a timely-manner with every single one of our clients to help them identify risks and prevent legal battles before they arise.