Top court orders new trial for UBS fine in tax case

France’s top appeals court upheld a tax fraud conviction against UBS on Wednesday but ordered a third trial to determine how much the Swiss bank should pay in penalties.

Switzerland’s largest bank had been condemned by an appeals court in December 2021 and ordered to pay a total of 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion).

UBS, which has always denied any wrongdoing, was found definitively guilty of illegally luring wealthy French clients to open secret accounts in Switzerland between 2004 and 2012.

“UBS is disappointed that the French Supreme Court has confirmed the previous court decision regarding unlawful client solicitation and aggravated laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud despite the treaty between Europe and Switzerland on the taxation of savings income and a lack of specific evidence for the alleged facts,” the bank said in a statement.

“UBS continues to maintain that it acted in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations at all times,” it added.

The 2021 sanction had included a confiscation of one billion euros, 800 million euros in damages, and a fine of 3.75 million euros.

On Wednesday, the Court of Cassation annulled the confiscation, ruling that confiscation was introduced to France’s legal system in 2013, well after the facts in question.

It also annulled the damages awarded to the state, saying they had not been adequately calculated.

A new court case will be held in the coming months at the Paris appeals court to determine the monetary penalties and interest.

“UBS will defend itself in the forthcoming trial,” it said.

UBS was fined 3.7 billion euros at the first trial in 2019, but the appeals court in 2021 whittled down the fine to a few million, while adding the confiscation and the indemnity.

The bank’s French subsidiary, UBS France, which was condemned on first appeal for complicity and ordered to pay 1.875 million euros, hadn’t appealed to the higher court. (AFP)