UBS AG (UBSN)’s French unit said it is prepared to cooperate with French investigators looking into tax-evasion allegations.
UBS, which hasn’t been contacted by investigators, “has taken note of” French press reports about the probe and “will of course fully collaborate with the authorities,” the Zurich- based bank’s French unit said in an e-mailed statement today.
Paris prosecutors opened a formal investigation April 12, after conducting a preliminary inquiry with the customs service into a complaint by France’s Prudential Control Authority in February 2011 over the bank’s practices in France. The probe, which doesn’t name a target, is led by an investigating judge, Guillaume Daieff, the Paris prosecutors office said today, confirming a report in Les Echos. French banking regulator ACP began looking into questions about the bank’s internal controls and transfers between French accounts and undeclared ones in Switzerland, according to the French business newspaper.
UBS avoided prosecution in the U.S. in 2009 by paying $780 million, admitting it helped thousands of Americans evade taxes and turning over the names of 250 American clients to U.S. authorities. UBS later revealed another 4,450 accounts held by clients in the country.
Switzerland enacted bank secrecy laws in 1934 after a French tax evasion investigation. In that case, Basler Handelsbank bankers were arrested in Paris in 1932 for aiding the firm’s French clients in tax evasion.
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