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French top court to rule mid-November on UBS' tax evasion appeal

Published 09/27/2023, 08:08 AM
Updated 09/27/2023, 09:16 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A tram passes outside the headquarters of Credit Suisse before a news conference of Swiss bank UBS in Zurich Switzerland, August 30, 2023. Picture taken with a long exposure. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

By Mathieu Rosemain and Noele Illien

PARIS (Reuters) -France's top court will rule on Nov. 15 on an appeal by UBS against its conviction in a tax evasion case which drew a 1.8 billion-euro ($1.90 billion) penalty, the Swiss bank's lawyer Patrice Spinosi said on Wednesday.

UBS' appeal to the country's highest judicial court represents its last chance to overturn part or all of a 2021 ruling, which upheld that the bank was guilty of both promoting illegal banking services and money laundering in the country.

The bank, which took over Credit Suisse in a hastily-arranged match in March, is involved in a host of other disputes and regulatory proceedings.

UBS reported in its half-year results that it has put aside over $6 billion in provisions for litigation and regulatory matters, including for Credit Suisse. It estimated that the financial implications from the French case only would come to 1.1 billion euros.

Earlier on Wednesday, its shares slumped 8% after Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had widened its probe into alleged compliance failures at the two banks that helped Russian clients to evade sanctions.

The 1.8 billion-euro fine ordered two years ago against UBS in France was less than half an initial overall penalty of 4.5 billion imposed on the bank after a first trial in 2019.

The bank, which was found guilty of soliciting clients illegally at sporting events and parties in France and for laundering the proceeds of tax evasion, had at the time hoped to see the charges thrown out by the Paris appeals court.

France's top court will review whether the Paris appeals court ruling complies with the law, not the facts that underpinned its decision.

© Reuters. A logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland March 29, 2023. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

If it overthrows part or all of the charges against UBS, a new trial will have to take place.

($1 = 0.9488 euros)

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