Swiss bank UBS appeals French verdict for money laundering

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The logo of Swiss bank UBS can be seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland on February 17, 2021. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann / File Photo

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  • UBS appeals to the Supreme Court of France
  • Said the call allows him to weigh the next steps

ZURICH, December 20 (Reuters) – UBS has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of France against last week’s decision by a Paris court which upheld the Swiss bank’s conviction for money laundering, while reducing his sentence for allegedly helping wealthy clients evade tax.

“This allows UBS AG to thoroughly assess the verdict of the appeal court and determine the next steps in the best interests of its stakeholders,” Switzerland’s largest bank said in a statement on Monday.

Such a remedy in France usually takes months. The Supreme Court can only rule on a legal technicality, rather than on the merits of the case. If he agrees with UBS, the case returns to the court of appeal.

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Paris Court of Appeal reduced UBS’s (UBSG.S) sanction to € 1.8 billion ($ 2.03 billion), less than half of an aggregate fine of 4.5 billion euros inflicted on the bank after a first trial in 2019. read more

UBS, however, had hoped to see the charges dismissed by the appeals court, particularly the money laundering allegation, because of the potential damage to the reputation of the world’s largest wealth manager.

Fines in Europe for tax and other offenses are historically lower than in the United States, with the UBS case being an exception closely watched by other banks.

Analysts are also monitoring the deal to see how much excess capital UBS can distribute to shareholders.

Confirming the verdict of the 2019 trial, the court of appeal found UBS guilty of illegally soliciting clients at sporting events and parties in France, and of laundering tax evasion proceeds.

UBS has already set aside 450 million euros in provisions in connection with this affair.

Lawyers for the bank argued during the appeal trial that despite whistleblowers, investigators never found clear evidence of systematic attempts by UBS business advisers to solicit French clients, including during events such as cocktails and hunts.

The bank also argued that the original fine was disproportionate.

($ 1 = € 0.8857)

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Reporting by Michael Shields in Switzerland; Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Paris, editing by Mark Potter and Alexander Smith

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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