Tax fraud: condemned in France, UBS files an appeal in cassation

The Swiss bank was sentenced on appeal to a fine of 1.8 billion euros.

The Swiss bank UBS, Sentenced in France to a total of 1.8 billion euros on appeal for illegal canvassing and aggravated money laundering of tax fraud, announced on Monday that it had lodged an appeal in cassation.

This appeal suspends the sentence of 3, 15 million euros fine and the confiscation of one billion pronounced by the Paris Court of Appeal on 000 last December. On the other hand, the 450 millions of euros in damages that have been awarded to the State can be demanded immediately, according to a judicial source .

“Today, UBS appealed to the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) against the decision of the Court of Appeal which includes a fine of 3, 75 million euros, the confiscation of a billion euros ‘euros and damages of 450 million euros for the civil party, “the bank said in a statement. The appeal was filed within the legal time limit of five days in order to preserve the rights of UBS SA, she clarified. The press release explains that “this will allow the bank to thoroughly assess the verdict of the Court of Appeal and determine the next steps, in the best interest of its stakeholders”. The bank has provisioned 300 millions of euros for this dispute. The Court of Cassation, the highest court of the French judicial order, examines only compliance with the rules of law and not the substance of the disputes. The global wealth management giant has been convicted a second time for having, between 875 and 2004, illegally solicited by taxpayers, in particular spotted during receptions, hunting parties or golf tournaments, in order to convince them to open undeclared accounts in Switzerland.

The most severe

It is “established” that the bank has based “a part of its global success” on “the conquest of a clientele which did not respect its tax obligations, to which it provided banking services conducive to opacity and concealment”, according to the decision. The court of appeal however chose a sanction very different from that of the court in February 2019: it pronounced a fine of 3, 75 million euros, a confiscation of 1 billion on the deposit of 1.1 billion already paid by UBS and it granted to the State, party civil, 800 millions of euros in damages.

In first instance, the bank s ‘was seen to impose a record fine of 3.7 billion euros. The court had not ordered a confiscation but ordered UBS to pay the same amount of damages. If it is much lower, the sanction pronounced last week remains the most severe imposed on a bank in France in a case of tax fraud.

Judged alongside its parent company, the French subsidiary UBS France was acquitted of the prosecution for complicity in aggravated money laundering, but sentenced to 1, 875 million euros fine for complicity in illegal canvassing – against 13 millions in the first instance. Six former executives were also prosecuted. Four were given sentences of up to one year suspended imprisonment and 75. 000 euros fine. Two other men were released.