“Hunt” for the rich during receptions: UBS sentenced to 1.8 billion euros for tax evasion and illegal canvassing

The financial penalty has been hacked into the ax. The Swiss bank UBS is sentenced on Monday to a total of 1.8 billion euros for aggravated money laundering of tax fraud and illegal bank canvassing in France between 2004 and 2012. A sentence much lower than that pronounced at first instance. The Paris Court of Appeal has in fact considerably reduced the sanction against the global wealth management giant, which was fined on February 20, 2019 an unprecedented fine of 3.7 billion euros as well as 800 million. euros in damages to the State, civil party.

Almost three years later, the Court of Appeal fined 3.75 million euros, confiscating a sum of 1 billion euros on the deposit of 1.1 billion paid by the group, as well as the same 800 million euros in damages. The French subsidiary UBS France was acquitted of the prosecution for complicity in money laundering aggravated by tax evasion, but sentenced for complicity in illegal bank canvassing, to a fine of 1.175 million euros – against 15 million at first instance.

Four of the six former executives prosecuted were also sentenced to suspended sentences of up to one year and a fine of 300,000 euros, mostly lighter than those imposed by the court, which had also sentenced five of between them. “The decision is difficult to understand,” responded the lawyer of UBS AG, Me Hervé Temime. “It is a decision whose financial consequences are 2.7 billion less (…) compared to the court’s decision”, but “in principle, there is a conviction, so we will reflect to see if we form an appeal in cassation ”. The Court of Appeal had to take into account several decisions rendered, between the two trials, by the Court of Cassation, likely to modify the calculation of the sentence imposed by UBS.

Wealthy potential customers spotted during golf tournaments

In this case, UBS was prosecuted for having sent Swiss salespeople to France to “hunt” the wealthy clients of its French subsidiary, spotted in particular during receptions, concerts or golf tournaments, in order to convince them to open undeclared accounts. in Swiss. In total, at the appeal trial, the prosecution estimated the amount of assets concealed over the period at 9.6 billion. Before UBS, many international banks were sanctioned for suspicion of tax evasion, money laundering, illicit real estate practices, rate manipulation or embargo violations.

In November 2018, Société Générale was fined $ 1.34 billion by the American authorities for having circumvented embargoes imposed by Washington. In 2017, French justice announced that HSBC Private Bank, the Swiss subsidiary of the British banking giant, agreed to pay 300 million euros to escape a trial for “laundering tax fraud”, a procedure then unprecedented in France.

Finally, the French bank BNP Paribas admitted in 2014 to having violated American embargoes against Cuba, Iran and Sudan, and agreed to pay $ 8.9 billion to avoid prosecution in the United States.

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